osewalrus: (Default)
History and its lessons are somewhat tricky things. Worse, to the extent any of these lessons become clear, they do so in hindsight.

I'll preface by saying I'm not trying to make a moral judgment or claim that anyone deserves anything. One of the worst things about history is that you can never tell how thing would have come out otherwise. You don't get to rerun the alternate scenario.And you can notoriously draw the wrong conclusion from history. But it provides some interesting questions about risk assessment.

Also, I'm not a Palestinian. So whether something is "worth it" or not is always a matter of judgment for the people involved. But understanding the risks is important.

In 2000, the Palestinians had both an Israeli Prime Minister (Ehud Barak) eager to cut a deal and an outgoing US administration trying to cut a deal. The deal was for a 2-state solution, with a portion of Jerusalem assigned to the Palestinians as their capital. Arafat refused. This decision was not unpopular with the Palestinian people as a whole. In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, facing a corruption scandal and certain election loss, tried to cut a similar deal with Abbas. Again, the offer was rejected.

Folks can argue back and forth why and who was at fault. But again, the decision was not unpopular.

Ten years later, it is increasingly hard to see anything even close to the deals that were offered then being put on the table anytime soon. It's not just the Israeli people. The entire direction of the world has changed. The centrality of the Israel/PA conflict in the Arab world has diminished and other crisis and issues now loom. The United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the world did not change. An increasing number of right wing governments have no problem with Israel suppressing the Palestinian people. Heck, a chunk of governments even within the European Union are even envious. And while anti-Semitism is rising in the world, that tends to drive more Jews to Israel and makes the Israeli people even less interested in peace with enemies they see as part of an implacable and endless cycle that pits Jews against a hostile world and where only a strong (and Jewish) State of Israel can protect Jews from being wiped off the face of the Earth entirely. 

Sometimes, the world goes in the opposite direction. 

The situation for Palestinians who wish to hold out is not hopeless, f course. Time has a tendency to go Jeremy Beremy and loop back on itself. It may even be that if Palestinians were granted certain knowledge of the future they might still have said in 2000 or 2008 "no, we will hold out for total victory!" Or it might be that these promised deals would have turned out to be as elusive as Oslo and never actually materialized. Who knows?

Nor does it impact what people should or shouldn't do today. I'm not saying "well, Palestinians missed their chance, let Netanyahu go to town." All the reasons, pragmatic and moral, for attempting to construct a stable, two-state solution are still there. As Netanyahu is demonstrating, it is impossible to maintain Western democratic ideals and a modern conception of fundamental liberties and human rights while seeking to maintain control of 4.5 million people under conditions of restricted movement and an inability to have a say in fundamental decisions about their government. 

I am saying that failure is always an option, and one that needs to be considered. Whatever "peace deal" is going to be offered to the Palestinians anytime soon (assuming there is one) it will be a damn sight poorer than what they could have gotten in 2000 or 2008. Do you hold out again? Or do you consider the possibility things may continue to get considerably worse. Do you bet on a Democrat winning in 2020? Would that even make a difference? The world keeps changing, and Israel's position continues to improve globally and economically. 

We'll see. 
osewalrus: (Default)
So a recent fairly respected survey shows that Americans are having less sex overall. Washpo article here. Some of that is the aging boomer population. older people have less sex (although not no sex necessarily).

But much of it is also in the younger end. Following a trend of the last 20 years or so, younger Americans are delaying everything from the age of sexual initiation to the age of marriage/live-in partner.

Needless to say, because "Everything Teh Kids Do Today Is Wrong," this has caused angst in the punditariate and the blaming of the usual suspects: internet, porn, how 'immature' the 'precious snowfakes' are, etc.

But here are some thoughts.

1. Is it true?

Surveys on sexual behavior are notoriously hard to do. Some years back the same argument was being made about Japanese men no longer being interested in sex. Are we just seeing people be more honest in responses than previous? Or less honest?


2. Assume it's true, is it a bad thing?

I'm having a hard time thinking why younger people have less sex is bad as a per se thing. I am old enough to remember how the rise of teenage sex (especially among middle schoolers as young as 12) was a bad thing. Since teen pregnancy rates were at an all time high at that point, I am not at all sure that teens deciding to delay sex until they are more mature is a bad thing.

Likewise, I don't think adults having less sex is necessarily a bad thing either. If we actually mean the shit that comes out of our mouths about how sex is something you should only do with someone when you actually want to do it, not because you feel like you should do it or because it is expected of you or because you owe someone or whatever, then a general decline in sex among the young and unpartnered is potentially a good thing and a sign of growing maturity. We have a mass media that screams that you ought to be pre-occupied with sex. But on the parent side, we are (hopefully) telling our sons and daughters to make sure that all involved are happy, enthusiastically consenting, and not intoxicated or otherwise unable to knowingly consent. We also have been stressing for awhile now that sex is not a rite of passage into adulthood. Fucking does not make a "real" man or "real" woman out of you. (Do people still say that? "I'm going to make a 'real' man/woman out of you" by taking your virginity?)


Combine this with the general and long-standing trend of delaying marriage and/or live-in partnering until later in life, an adjustment to both our extended lifespans and general expectations of independence and earning power, we should expect that younger people will put off sexual initiation and generally have less sex because they are primarily having sex when both parties engaged want it, not simply when one does and the other is coerced by social pressure to go along (or when both feel coerced by social pressure to 'do the deed').

So younger people are apparently developing healthier attitudes toward sex that we've been preaching for the last 2 decades. Needless to say, this is Alarming.
 

osewalrus: (Default)
Those outside of DC (or your state capital) would naturally think that industry self-regulation, especially of life & death matters, is insane. But it has become increasingly commonplace under a theory of "incentives," which is rather like an indulgent parent confident that Little Woogums will never misbehave. Or, as I put in a recent blog post, it involves treating industry rather like the Durselys treated Dudley and treating consumers as they treated Harry Potter at the opening of The Sorcerer's Stone.

NYT Article https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/us/politics/boeing-faa.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage 
osewalrus: (Default)
Back in November 2016, after the election, I predicted the economy would begin to tank in 2019.  This invariably happens when Republicans take over, largely due to their overall refusal to enforce anything against the private sector. Consolidation and consumer rip offs are naturally contractionairy. Mind you, it isn't clear what the precise trigger will be, but I'm confident enough in the pattern to have predicted in 2016 that solid Republican control of government would mean the economy tanking in 2019.

Which is why I view the inversion of the yield curve with some interest. https://www.vox.com/2019/3/25/18279705/yield-curve-inversion-recession-explained

In 2004, I was off by a year because I hadn't realized just how deep the corruption ran that made it possible to hide everything. I spent all of 2006 wondering why the financial world was not melting down given the large number of unsustainable things that made no sense. Turned out I wasn't wrong -- it was melting down -- but it got swept under the rug until it grew monstrous.

So we'll see.
osewalrus: (Default)
 It's a throw away in the larger story at the end, but it highlights an important point. Reporter Luydmilla Savchuk, aka "the Troll Slayer," took a job at the Internet Research Agency in 2016 and then did an expose. In 2018, after returning from a conference on fake news, she found herself locked out of her FB account from November 2018 to mid-February 2019. No explanation from FB, but she believes it is because Putin trolls exploited the complaint process.
 
osewalrus: (Default)
Excellent piece by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight.  Unspoken, but important, is the role of traditional media in all of this. Not only was traditional media doing this well before social media existed (as illustrated by his focus on and interview with Monica Lewinsky), but the consolidation of traditional media allows for no rebuttal. Lewinsky observed at the end of the interview that social media might have made things worse, but at the same time it would also have allowed some people to express support, which would have meant a great deal to her at the time.

It's a rather important point as news coverage continues to drive us toward a "social media is the root of all evil" narrative.
osewalrus: (Default)
This article pull out the relevant pieces of the charging docs. While some parents told their kids about the scams and cooperated, others were kept totally in the dark. That was part of the "service" singer offered. If parents wanted their kids to "feel good about themselves" and "think they were super smart" after all, that could be easily arranged.
https://www.vox.com/2019/3/14/18263876/college-admissions-fraud-investigation-fbi-quotes

Basically, it involved shifting things to the back end to hide from the student. The parents told these kids that "maybe they have a learning disability" and they should get tested. The test doctor was bribed to confirm a learning disability that required 100% extension of time. This also explained to the child why s/he was now apparently doing much better than previously. Now that the "learning disability" was "diagnosed," child could get special accommodations for standardized testing. Singer had a network of bribed administrators and exam proctors on the back end who would alter scores, including doctor transcripts. As Singer explained, what was important was to show that the child was "improving." The combination of the supposed "learning disability" and "transformation" of the child into a superior student as a result of the diagnosis made the admission plausible -- when combined with the other "side door" services Singer provided.

If this sounds elaborate, keep in mind these are parents who were willing to pay potentially $100s of thousands if they got the right results.
osewalrus: (Default)
https://www.vox.com/videos/2019/3/12/18261856/green-new-deal-tactical-framing-aoc

This Vox piece explains how political journalism increases our cynicism and promotes partisan gridlock by covering everything through "tactical framing." (video here) Tactical framing means focusing on the political aspects of a bill or issue -- will it pass, is it good for Republicans, is it good for Democrats-- rather than anything about the substance. i.e., so what the impact of the bill is, what problem is it trying to solve, how does it go about trying to solve that problem.

In their book Spiral of Cynicism Joseph Capella and Kathleen Hall Jamieson (she is interviewed a bunch in the piece) describe the results of their research into tactical framing. Turns out even if you include some substantive information in an overall tactical frame of the debate, the impact of tactical framing is to increase both cynicism and partisanship (since everyone is lying, I go with my team). By contrast, when people were given substantive stories, they were much more likely to become engaged.

This is pretty much one of the things we were worried about 20 years ago in media reform. While we have always had some tactical framing analysis, the shift in the last 30 or so years in news coverage has been to almost completely eliminate substantive coverage and shift entirely to tactical framing. There are lots of reasons for that, which I won't get into now. But the impact on our democracy is fairly devastating.

Also of note, this is a "traditional media" problem not a "new media/social media" problem. Fox News and other traditional media outlets were using the "attention triggers" of conflict and extreme rhetoric to attract viewers/readers well before Facebook was even invented.
osewalrus: (Default)
I cannot believe Bibi has gotten so blatantly racist about Israel's non-Jewish citizens. I hope to Hell he goes down to blazing defeat in this election.

Israel is the nation state of all its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish. To claim otherwise is to betray the fundamental tenants of democracy, to incite racial hatred and discrimination, and to undermine confidence in the government's ability to provide equal justice to all under the law. To even suggest otherwise demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means for Israel to be the Jewish state and an unfitness to serve in the government of Israel in any capacity.
osewalrus: (Default)
Some Fox News anchor suggested that Omar's opinions on Israel come from her being a Muslim and that it is all about Sharia law. Said Fox News host was roundly condemned by lots of folks from the right and left, even Fox News itself.
https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/10/media/jeanine-pirro-ilhan-omar/index.html

The trick, of course, is that no one is ever going to remember that this happened. Because I will forever hear about how it never happens.

This is why I generally regard the argument of silence as suspect. It pops up all the time on both the right and the left. For example, conservatives like to say: "Well, why aren't people doing something about black on black violence?" And, of course, they are doing lots of stuff about it. Another is "why don't people make a big deal when police shoot a white person." And, of course, people make a big deal when police shoot a random white person who is simply outside in their yard or at a traffic stop or any similar circumstances. It's just that no one remembers.

Likewise, lots of people denounce the accusations against Muslims that their political views derive from Sharia law or from some inherent antisemitism that flows from being Muslim. Mind you, lots of people also say stupid shit like this all the time (I hear it way too much in the Jewish community). But no one ever remembers the lots of Jewish organizations like the ADL or any other Jewish org that denounces such awfulness. 

This is the problem of "confirmation bias" writ large in our daily politics. It makes it even more annoying when used as a means of brushing aside any sort of criticism or question.

But I keep track for my own convenience. It reminds me I am not crazy when I remember things other people do not.

osewalrus: (Default)
A bunch of former Clinton advisors are going to the press to whine about Bernie. Why? "Unity." I guess.
https://www.vox.com/2019/3/8/18253459/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-2020-relitigate-primary

I cannot help but think that they are less angry on behalf of Hillary than they are on the fact that Hillary losing (and now bowing out of 2020) has sidelined the posse of highly ambitious  hangers on who bet their political carriers on Hillary's eventual Presidency.
osewalrus: (Default)
 Article from Forward. The article argues that the Left's understanding of racism makes the ongoing erasure of antisemitism as a concern of the left inevitable because it is an underlying problem in theory, not an act of deliberate malice.  To quote the heart of the argument:

"Anti-Semitism differs from most forms of racism in that it purports to “punch up” against a secret society of oppressors, which has the side effect of making it easy to disguise as a politics of emancipation. If Jews have power, then punching up at Jews is a form of speaking truth to power — a form of speech of which the left is currently enamored.

"In other words, it is because anti-Semitism pretends to strike at power that the left cannot see it, and is doomed to erase — and even reproduce — its tropes."

The article continues at length to describe the evolution of Antisemitism from the early days of Christianity as essentially a form of conspiracy theory. Originally, the theory was simple. Jews were in league with Satan. They had used their money and influence to kill Jesus. They had tried to oppress and stamp out the early Christian faith. Even now, they remained a small, sorcerous league scattered throughout the world corrupting men with their perverse sorcery.Over time, this evolved into more gruesome details, such as the myth of the desecration of the Host (ritualistic desecration of communion wafers) and, most famous of all, the blood libel.

After the European Enlightenment and subsequent emancipation of the Jews in Europe in the 19th Century (although not until the 20th Century in Russia), belief in witches and devil worship and sorcery waned. But the myth of Jews as members of a secret cabal with hidden powers allowing them to corrupt and manipulate society morphed with the times. It is these tropes, the author of the article argue, that exist today and make it structurally impossible for the Left to understand antisemitism as a systemic form of race hatred. All other forms of race hatred involve the idea of classifying the oppressed as subhuman. Antisemitism, while it has always contained a healthy dose of xenophobia, relies on the idea that Jews are somehow inhumanly powerful. 

What is worse, in a world now ripe for conspiracy theories, we find these traditional antisemitic tropes falling neatly into the mindset of the Social Justice movement generally. The Social Justice movement is built on theories of power imbalance and on the need to attack those with disproportionate power. The central tenant is that systemic discrimination is about maintaining power, and that therefore equal distribution of power in society is a necessary requisite to social justice. This is certainly a reasonable theory. I tend to believe it myself. Or, as I like to say, incumbents do not welcome competition. But it has an unfortunate tendency to simplify things (as all theories do when they move from philosophy to ideology), especially when power dynamic moves from one element of a complex system to the sole explanation for all racial and economic injustice. Once everything is explainable by power dynamics, the world sorts itself naturally into the standard Manichean model of good v. evil. In this case, it is oppressors v. oppressed.

This is a system vulnerability, and antisemitism infects it like a virus. The author of the linked to article provides numerous examples in which Jews generally, or Israel specifically, are capable of supernatural acts of evil geared to oppress the helpless, largely people of color. Thus, for example, Jewish Voices for Peace pushes the idea that Israel trains American police in how to abuse black people. Buried in the Hamas charter is the description of how Jews "took control of the world media," and used this control to "stir revolutions to reap the fruit for their own ends." The Hamas Charter goes on to list supposed Jewish accomplishments of starting and running the French Revolution, founding the Freemasons, and using their powers to get Europeans to engage in imperialism and colonialism.

Despite this language still being in the Hamas central document, you will still find almost no one in the Social Justice movement who will accept that Hamas is not merely a Palestinian nationalist organization, but an an antisemitic organization. To the contrary, pointing this out is attacked as an attempt to suppress criticism of Israel, and a sign of loyalty to Israel over the cause of social justice and morality generally. Because as long as the power imbalance puts Jews at the top, the motives of the oppressed are beyond reproach and any effort to challenge them is simply an effort to preserve the underlying power structure.

Just as the Right has a systemic blind spot in identifying its own racism because it conceptualizes racism as being a direct statement of racial inferiority that all blacks are inferior to all whites, rather than a much more complicated phenomena involving things such as institutional and structural power imbalance, broad generalizations about character traits and culture, and other significant contributing factors that go well beyond the white supremacist ideology, the Left has a systemic blind spot in conceiving of antisemitism as anything other than direct threats of physical violence directed against Jews. For the right, if ain't Jim Crow, it ain't racist -- even if it is functionally equivalent. For the Left, if it ain't the Pittsburgh shooting or Nazi graffiti, it ain't antisemitism. Or, as Linda Sarsour has explained:

"I want to make the point that while antisemitism is something that impacts Jewish Americans, it's different from anti-black racism of Islamophobia because it is not systemic. Of course, you may experience vandalism or an attack on a synagogue, or even a personal attack. . . But it's not systemic and we need to make that distinction."

Let us set aside for a moment the reaction of the Left if some conservative movement leader were to make a video supposedly condemning Islamophobia but downplaying its impact because it is 'really just since 9/11 and not systemic.' I will also put aside how my own life experience demonstrates the contrary (or perhaps I am simply unlucky). Instead, let us focus on how this conceptualizes the idea of antisemitism.

Why should antisemitism be regarded as "not systemic." Virtually every study in recent years of resurgent white nationalism shows that antisemitism is a central tenet of white nationalism. Indeed, blacks and others who are targets are generally regarded as dupes manipulated by Jews. Robert Bowers wrote before going off to shoot up the Tree of Life synagogue cited as his primary motivation the idea that it was Jews who were bringing in caravans of refugees from Central America and thus destroying our country. But somehow, the Social Justice left views antisemitism as a series of inexplicable one offs, unlike the systemic discrimination experienced by other targeted populations.

The rational explanation for this approach is that the idea of systemic discrimination against Jews is simply incompatible with the underlying understanding of the universe inherent in the current ideology of the Social Justice Movement. If Jews are not systemically poor (although many of them are), and Jews are not systemically disempowered in obvious and visible ways, that it is not possible that discrimination against Jews is systemic. Q.E.D.  Sure, it can be used as a one off weapon by conservatives (hence the amazing ability of progressives to call out general antisemitic tropes when used by conservatives and Republicans). But this is simply an application of the "bad apples" theory of antisemitism. i.e., There is no systemic antisemitism (because it can't be, Jews aren't on the wrong end of the power imbalance), only opportunistic demagogues and other "bad apples" perpetrating non-systemic violence.

If this sounds familiar, it is because that is exactly what conservatives say when confronted with irrefutable evidence of racial discrimination or Islamophobia. The conservative calculation works different in its specifics, but the general function is the same. If there is no de jure segregation, there can be no institutional racism, QED.  As long as everyone is equal under the letter of the law, the conservative worldview goes, then there is no racism simply because the (foreseeable) impact is disproportionate on a particular racial group. Accordingly, any actual acts of racism are the result of "bad apples." (To the extent there are well documented broad disparities, the problem must lie with the impacted group, because the law is neutral.)

And, as the past two weeks have demonstrated, the same underlying structural blind spot in such simplistic world views creates a protective mechanism that further reenforces the ideology and resists any systemic action. So, for example, if you are conservative, then #BlackLivesMatter is racist because it seeks to create a visible awareness of a systemic racial divide where there is no systemic problem (since the law is written neutrally). So #AllLivesMatter (or, even more obnoxiously, #BlueLivesMatter) responds by regarding this demand for recognition of a systemic problem as itself racist and divisive. This makes total sense within the conservative worldview, however at odds with reality. If the system is neutral (the underlying ideological conservative base of belief) then any effort to demonstrate systemic bias is an effort to create systemic bias where none exists. This must, of course, be for the purpose of gaining preferential treatment at the expense of others (i.e., white people).

Whereas, as we have seen in the last two weeks, any effort to address antisemitism as systemic, rather than only when used by bad apples of the other side. We see the same identification of an attempt to describe a systemic issue, accusations of dual loyalty as an excuse to persecute Jews ( a charge going back to the Book of Esther) treated as a personal attack (granted, this is aggravated by a host of political opportunists -- most of whom are not Jewish and don't give a crap about antisemitism -- making the attack personal). We see the same circling of the wagons, that any attempt to raise concern about the systemic problem -- the consistent treatment of Jews as a secret cabal whose true loyalties lie with some foreign power (whether it's Satan in the middle ages, Communism or exploitive capitalism in the 19th and 20th Centuries, or the State of Israel today) -- as an effort to create a systemic accusation where none exists. We see accusations that even raising the matter is divisive, and that trying to discuss it serves the purposes of the "real" enemy/threat.

This also explains the resistance to understanding concern over accusations that sound in dual loyalty (a mere two weeks after accusations that echo the trope of using wealth to buy corrupt influence for the benefit of the Jewish cabal) do not arise in a vacuum. they come at a time when the American Jewish community has experienced a sudden, rapid rise in systemic antisemitism. But if it is impossible for antisemitism to be systemic, then this incident is an isolated incident and no greater context need apply. Again, if this sounds familiar, it is because this is exactly how conservatives deal with police shootings. There is no pattern, merely a series of one time incidents which are each debated and parsed on their specifics with the presumption against finding anything racist, trying to excuse it when found, and -- if all else fails -- dismissing it as a one off "bad apple."

Which brings us to the last similarity. The invariable "where was the outrage when X happened?" For conservatives, it is the supposed ignoring of police shootings of white people. After all, if police also shoot white people, it can't be systemic racism. Worse, your purported failure to care about police shooting of white people proves that you are only trying to promote your own agenda. Since if shooting people is bad it ought to be equally bad when white people are shot. But where were then, huh?


I will save for some other time my specific issues with the ridiculous levels of gaslighting I have seen from the social justice left in the last two weeks in this vein, ranging from the apparent amnesia that white christian male Republican Steven King got his committees stripped and was roundly called out by all Democrats and many Republicans to the fact that Democrats called out Rep. Jim Jordan's antisemitic tweet (in fact, with considerable overlap over who introduced the resolution -- which condemned all antisemitism without naming any names precisely BECAUSE they intended it to apply generically), and the same Democrats (and lots of the same Jews) did call out the awful 9/11 poster. None of this has stopped the endless insistence that no one did anything until it was a black Muslim woman attacking the powerful Israel lobby. 

Indeed, it is impressive the extent to which the Left has resisted the efforts of the Democratic leadership to lead the conversation back to Republican antisemitism, which is supposedly an objective of the Left, was both astounding in its ferocity and amazing in its effectiveness. The resolution as introduced deliberately named no one, designed to allow for a pivot away from Omar to include folks like Jordan. But no, Progressives would have none of it. Rather than accepting the explanation of the Leadership that drafted the resolution that this was a strategy to draw focus on Republican antisemitism, they continued to insist that this explanation was a ruse to disguise that Omar was the real target. While this may seem enormously self-defeating as a strategy (since in theory the goal should be to draw attention back to Republican antisemitism), but it is entirely consistent with the ideology of power imbalance. Since it is impossible that antisemitism is systemic, the description of it in a resolution as systemic is an effort to silence Rep. Omar's brave speaking truth to power. It is the martyrdom of power dynamics that must be celebrated as the true, systemic institutional racism.

[And the dumb ass response on pointing this out that I am somehow equating Omar with King, allow me to elucidate for all you folks who cannot/will not follow logic, the statement wrt King was an example of a counter proof to the broad general statement that Ilhan Omar is unique in being criticized or receiving any sort of condemnation. It is not a comparison of their actions. Indeed, King's far more reprehensible action got a far more severe, and appropriate, measure of opprobrium. What Omar did was simply tone deaf, as the Speaker pointed out.]

[The "moral equivalent" fallacy is, in my observation, a peculiarly favorite fallacy of the Left to change the subject when confronted with a proof that undermines the logical structure of the ideology. But that is also a subject for another time.]

osewalrus: (Default)
Interesting article on the widespread belief that we can solve the gender gap in tech through  "resume blinding." Resume blinding is the practice of removing information from a resume that indicates gender (or race). This usually involves deleting names, but may also involve other changes. This follows results that had previously indicating strong bias (either conscious or unconscious) against candidates with "minority sounding" or female names.

It's not that resume blinding is ineffective. It is that tech recruiters are vastly overstating its effectiveness. This plays on the recent pressure on major tech companies to close the race and gender gaps in hiring. Tech companies that claim to have achieved magic results (such as an increase in placement of women by 54% through resume blinding) are in demand both from white women and people of color of al genders, and from employers eager to show their recruiting efforts reflect their commitment to diversity.

More detailed studies of resume blinding (which may also include things such as blurring voices in remote interviews to avoid intrinsic bias during the interview stage) do show some impact, and that can be significant over time (blind resume and blind audition for symphony positions, for example, improved placement of women in major professional symphonies by 25%, but over a 40 year period). The difficulty is that POC and white women face systemic problems at multiple stages in the education and job chain. As the article points out, if only 20% of graduates with CS degrees are women, blind recruiting is not going to help much. (Interesting study on the cycle of interest by girls and women in computer science here. Turns out high school is where girl's interest in STEM goes to die.)
osewalrus: (Default)
Fascinating new study discussed here attempting to measure any impacts of voter ID laws. The authors of the study are duly cautious and cite the need for more research. I'm not going to write out the methodology (click through if you are that interested). But the authors set out to measure the following:

1. Do voter ID laws impact incidence of voter fraud?

Ans: No. Using tracking databases from both conservative and liberal sources, there was no evidence supporting any significant impact on incidents of voter fraud (which are pretty rare in any event).*

*As some have noted, he 2018 North Carolina House race was a case of voter theft, not voter fraud. Voter I.D. laws don't help in those cases any more than requiring a credit card for transactions prevents against identity theft.


2. Do voter ID laws impact the perception of voter fraud? i.e. Do people in states with stronger voter ID laws think those laws make their elections more fair, more secure, and less subject to voter fraud.

Ans: Surprisingly, no. No matter how stringent the voter laws passed by the state, surveys conducted before and after show that attitudes about the prevalence of voter fraud remain virtually unchanged.


3. Do voter ID laws suppress turn out? 
Ans: Surprisingly, no. Although the authors admit that there may be some loss of voting at the margin, which could certainly make a difference in close elections, they could find no statistical evidence that passing voter ID laws impacted the voter turnout. (Again, read the article if you want methodology).

What is interesting is that this is not a novel finding. What few other studies have been done have also found that there is no statistical evidence of significant decrease in voting behavior a result of voter ID laws, although anecdotal evidence suggests that there is some small impact which falls within the margin of error of the studies. This is important when evaluating whether voter ID laws are "harmless," as we usually regard any sort of chilling effect on fundamental rights, however slight, harmful. Given the lack of evidence that they do anything positive -- they don't even increase the perception of reducing voter fraud -- the finding that they do not appear to cause a statistical decline in voting does not make it OK or merely neutral. Even anecdotal evidence of a chilling effect is -- from a traditional legal balancing matter at least -- a harm that requires a showing of substantial benefit to offset.

4. Do voter ID laws mobilize voters, counteracting their effect.
Ans: Again, surprisingly, no. One theory explaining finding #3 (which, as I've noted, has been replicated by what few other studies that have looked at the question) is that voter ID laws produce a "backlash effect" among populations most likely impacted by the voter ID laws. The study authors could find no evidence of mobilization based on voter ID laws that would counter any suppression effect. They postulate that although the populations critics of voter ID laws argue are being targeted by these laws do, in fact, have lower rates of applying for driver's license or passport (the most common government issued IDs), the segment of these populations that are motivated to vote already have IDs, or are not deterred by the need to get an ID. But they also caution there is no evidence to support this explanation.

As with all good studies, the authors acknowledge the limitations, warn against drawing over-broad conclusions and urge more study be done.

As always, life is complicated and measuring impacts of things in complex systems is hard. But the fact that Voter ID laws aren't even good security theater for those who support them is an excellent reason to get rid of them. Why bother with something so divisive if it doesn't even make people who demand it feel any better?
osewalrus: (Default)
Long and fascinating from Vanity Fair on how Facebook struggles with its community standards/hate speech. Also contains some very useful stats such as:

Only 4% of FB's total content is news. The rest is personal content posted by individuals. This is rather important when we talk about things like policy, especially in the context of the Article 11 and Article 13 debates in the EU.

57% of people who received notices of takedowns for violations of community standards felt that they were dealt with unfairly. Most particularly that FB did not understand their pov. OTOH, among those who did feel they were treated fairly, there was a very significant decline in repeat offenders (as compared with those who felt unfairly treated).

While some controversial content is good financially, too much is bad -- especially hate speech. A relatively small number of users can cause a much larger number of users to actively disengage from the platform. OTOH, massive expenditures to address the problems translate into huge hits in stock price. This makes the financial incentives of the company complicated.
osewalrus: (Default)
Recently, a terrible challenge involving the image of a "chicken lady" -- the Momo Challenge -- has gone viral. This terrible image challenges gullible young children to acts of ever increasing violence and self-harm, culminating in murders and suicides.

Except not so much

Turns out this is entirely an urban rumor which jumped to mainstream by way of local and national media. It is not children, but well meaning parents and adults, who turn out to be horribly gullible and manipulable.

Which rather demonstrates a point made by Yochai Benkler and others. "Fake news" that is purely internet based gets few takers. To catch on, it needs uptake in real media -- particularly Fox News and conservative talk radio.

This doesn't mean the conspiracy sites and YouTube videos have no negative effect. But it does suggest that a good deal of the fervor and ire is misplaced (and therefore leads to bad policy).
osewalrus: (Default)
The human toll for human beings forced to monitor Facebook's content to catch violations of its community standards is frightening.
https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/25/18229714/cognizant-facebook-content-moderator-interviews-trauma-working-conditions-arizona ;
osewalrus: (Default)
What do you get when you form a new political party out of three existing parties with opposing ideologies and two popular former generals with no political experience whatsoever? Find out this election season in "Anyone But Bibi!"
https://www.axios.com/israel-elections-benjamin-netanyahu-centrist-party-26466f58-2839-42cf-a6b1-e6017ae0768c.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=organic&fbclid=IwAR1n-D4R4fnlxbMYfK_zOEravLYYy2A3MMnRXDdYHhI_ER0vm1F76aVitxI

A touch more seriously, it's basically what Sharon did when he formed Kadimah. It was basically the "I've got a solution, trust me" Party that combined everyone who didn't want either Perez or Netanyahu. Then he stroked out, which is the downside of building a party around "Vote for me because I'm not X."

Overall, the parties do have some common elements on the domestic agenda. They favor a more active role of government to address wealth inequality, affordable housing, and other pressing economic issues. They are mostly (with the exception of Telem) in favor of somehow coming to grips with Israel's racist past and ongoing racism (both toward Jews of color and non-Jewish citizens). Be interesting to see what happens. 
Page generated Apr. 24th, 2019 12:58 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios