Tuesday, October 16th, 2018


As the (Jim) Crow Flies

"The debate over the city's statue of Robert E. Lee and the white supremacist march last year set Charlottesville apart and spurred it to confront its Confederate past. But the city hasn't fully come to terms with another aspect of its Jim Crow legacy: a school system that segregates students from the time they start and steers them into separate and unequal tracks." A report co-published by the NYT and ProPublica looks at the very different educational and life experiences of kids living on opposite sides of the tracks in a now well-known Virginia town. Charlottesville's Other Jim Crow Legacy: Separate and Unequal Education.

+ Chicago Tribune: Same city, different opportunities: Study maps life outcomes for children from Chicago neighborhoods.

+ Race and poverty aren't the only challenges facing some students. During the last school year, 114,659 public students were homeless. That's not across America. That's just in New York City.

+ "Harvard acknowledges that, as it makes its admission decisions, it does so with an eye for academic excellence but also for diversity—including race, among other factors—to create the best learning environment for its students. This is Blum's real target: the consideration of race in any decision by a university or a government." Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker: The Underlying Attack in the Harvard Admissions Lawsuit. (As the stories above remind us, Affirmative Action isn't just about transgressions from the distant past. It's about what's happening right here, right now.)


Getting a Little Long in the Booth

"Although America's voting-age population includes a roughly equal number of millennials and baby-boomers, the 2016 electorate featured 14 million more of the latter." NYT: Millennials Need to Start Voting Before the Gerontocracy Kills Us All. (Maybe we'd attract more young people to the polls if we called elections something other than midterms...)

+ "Looking at the historical trends, there's no question that youth voter turnout is consistently low in midterms, but exit poll data from competitive statewide elections in 2017 suggests that 2018 could set a record high for young voter participation." Five Thirty Eight: Young Voters Might Actually Show Up At The Polls This Year. (Whether they do or don't will be the deciding factor in the election...)


The Saud Squad

"While the United States has a number of regional and bilateral issues to discuss with Saudi leadership, learning what happened to Jamal Khashoggi is the primary purpose of this trip and is of great interest to the president." WaPo: Pompeo calls for ‘transparent' Saudi investigation of Khashoggi's fate. And a Turkish official says that investigators have found new evidence the writer was slain in the consulate. (The Turkish government, the Saudi royals, and Donald Trump walk into a consulate to investigate a crime involving a journalist. Good luck getting to the truth...)


One Click Checkout

"For most of us, Earth would be our homeland but not our home. We'd use it for R&R, visiting it as we would a national park. Then we'd return to the cosmos, where humanity would be thriving like never before. Asimov, agreeing entirely, called resistance to the concept 'planetary chauvinism.' That vision captivated a generation of space nerds, including Bezos, who believed it back then, as a brainy schoolkid. And he believes it now, with 'increasing conviction' every passing year." Steven Levy in Wired: Jeff Bezos Wants Us All To Leave Earth—For Good. (He's not the first person to have that reaction to dealing with all the rain in Seattle...)


Hedge Hog Heaven

"Sears is a prime example of how hedge funds and private equity companies take over retailers, encumber them with debt in order to pay themselves massive windfall profits, and then leave the retailer without adequate operating capital to compete. Part of the strategy is to sell off valuable real estate, the better to enrich the hedge fund, and stick the retail company with costly rental payments to occupy the space that it once owned." Did Sears die. Or was it killed?

+ "Sears has been dying for many years. It's been obviously improperly run for many years and it's a shame." So said President Trump. (Sidenote: Steven Mnuchin was on the Sears board for those many years...)

+ Either way, "anything that lasts 132 years, as Sears has, deserves a proper eulogy. You don't live longer than any human in history without getting a few things right." Sears Is Not a Failure.

+ Jason Kottke has an interesting roundup of articles explaining How the Sears Catalog Undermined White Supremacy in the Jim Crow South.


Bench Warmers

Zimbabwe has a population of more than 16 million. There are 12 psychiatrists practicing there. To help address this imbalance, the country has gotten some help, from grandmothers. Hundreds of grandmothers have been trained "in evidence-based talk therapy, which they deliver for free in more than 70 communities in Zimbabwe. In 2017 alone, the Friendship Bench, as the programme is called, helped over 30,000 people there. The method has been empirically vetted and have been expanded to countries beyond, including the US." BBC: How a bench and a team of grandmothers can tackle depression.


Am I Bugging You?

"This study in PNAS is a real wake-up call — a clarion call — that the phenomenon could be much, much bigger, and across many more ecosystems. This is one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read." WaPo: Hyperalarming study shows massive insect loss.


Horse Manure

Following a Stormy Daniels related legal decision in his favor, the President of the United States tweeted: "Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer." (We can say that having a president who calls a woman horseface from the Oval Office is not normal all we want. But my kids are just becoming aware of politics. This is the only president they've known. The sad reality is that for them, and millions more, this is normal.)


Needle Marks

"If you are reading this with judgment, educate yourself about this disease, because that is what it is. It is not a choice or a weakness. And chances are very good that someone you know is struggling with it, and that person needs and deserves your empathy and support." An obituary for our times: Madelyn Linsenmeir, 1988-2018.


Bottom of the News

"A minute-long video, shot at the aquarium and posted on YouTube, shows a man taking off his clothes and diving into the Dangerous Lagoon, a 2.9-million-litre tank that offers an underwater gallery to dozens of marine animals, including 17 sharks." CBC: Aquarium skinny-dipper wanted for earlier, violent assault.

+ After much controversy, Apple fixed its Bagel Emoji. (Editor's note: It's rendered as a plain bagel. Nothing is fixed.)

+ NPR: Florence and the Machine's tiny desk concert.