Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
If you have been diligently reading online news websites, you have undoubtedly seen a story about the supposed "Death Map."
According to researchers at the University of South Carolina and something called "BioMed Central," the Death Map shows that heat (and cold) is far more likely to kill someone than, say, flooding or an earthquake. Therefore, local and State governments (especially in the East and Mid-West) should focus resources on providing some sort of aid during the summer and winter months. As for the West coast, perhaps it would be more beneficial to understand the effects of extreme weather conditions on the ground (soil erosion, landslides, etc.), than spend billions of dollars on retro-fitting every small town and unincorporated area up and down the Pacific for the possible earthquake that may never (in our lifetime) come.
The problem with the Death Map is the design, however. You'll notice that the United States is divided up into vast regions. These are Environmental Protection Agency regions, arbitrarily designed for administrative purposes, not for monitoring or measuring the work done by it. There is nothing inherently relevant about using this region map for the purposes of defining rates and reasons for death. Consequently, the mostly fertile valleys of California are conflated with the largely vast and arid Southwest.
Another problem with the map is the reasons for death. What does "Severe Weather" mean? How is a "Tornado" or "Winter Weather" not part of "Severe Weather"? And why is "Lightening" so frighteningly likely in the Greater Southeast? The definition of the "Lightening" class must be much more broad for it to appear on the map; or, lightening really is a danger there.
The worst part of the map is the noise produced by the "Other" category. Sure, you have about an 1/8th of a chance to be killed by lightening in Region IV, but beware of the "Other" (almost 50% likelihood of death): death by car, death by robbery, death by cancer, death by old-age, and a whole host of other mundane deaths. Or perhaps not so mundane deaths: death by PCP fiend, death by auto-erotic asphyxiation, death by Hello Kitty fetishist, or death by Sarah Palin-loving racist. The "Other" category minimizes the impact of the other classes, and should have been removed.
According to the news story, the researchers were two South Carolina geographers: Susan Cutter and her student, Kevin Borden. I am surprised. They should have known better.
Or maybe no one cares about my cartographic elitism...
Friday, November 14, 2008
PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP, SARAH PALIN! SHUT THE FUCK UP! YOU'RE NOT QUALIFIED TO RUN FOR THE PRESIDENCY, NOW, OR FOUR YEARS FROM NOW! YOU WERE A CAMPAIGN GIMMICK. A HAIL MARY PASS BY A LOSING QUARTERBACK! YOU KNOW NOTHING! YOU ARE TOO DUMB TO BE ON THE NATIONAL STAGE! YOU JUST PLAYED JOHNNY MAC'S LADY MACBETH AND IT DIDN'T WORK OUT SO SHUT THE FUCK UP, NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOUR OPINIONS ON ANYTHING SO SHUT THE FUCK UP! YOU ARE NOT WORTHY! YOU LOST THE ELECTION! SHUT THE FUCK UP! GO BACK TO ALASKA AND STAY THERE WITH YOUR IRRITATING FAMILY AND SHUT THE FUCK UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP! THIS IS YOUR 2-MINUTE WARNING ON YOUR 15 MINUTES OF FAME! YOU'RE DONE! YOU'RE OVER! YOU BLEW THE ELECTION, THANK GOD! YOU'RE IRRELEVANT! SHUT THE FUCK UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP! NO, REALLY! NOBODY GIVES A SHIT THAT YOU OFFERED YOUR SERVICE TO THE COUNTRY! WE DON'T WANT YOUR SERVICE! WE'VE HAD 8 YEARS OF STUPID AND SMUG AND IT NEARLY RUINED US! WE'RE LOSING ONE GRINNING MEGALOMANIAC, WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER! OBAMA WON! YOU LOST! BECAUSE HE'S MORE QUALIFIED! YOU CANNOT BLUFF YOUR WAY INTO NATIONAL OFFICE, SO TAKE THAT FAKE SMALL-TOWN HUMILITY BULLSHIT AND SHUT THE FUCK UP! YOU CANNOT OUTSMART CITY FOLK BECAUSE WE'RE SMARTER THAN YOU SO SHUT THE FUCK UP! GO KILL A MOOSE! FIRE A RELATIVE! HUMP A SNOWPLOW! NOBODY CARES! JUST STAY AWAY FROM THE LOWER 48! YOU LOST! JUST BOW OUT GRACEFULLY AND SHUT THE FUCK UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP! GOD DOESN'T WANT YOU TO RUN! HE SHUT THE DOOR IN YOUR FACE! TAKE THE FUCKING HINT AND SHUT THE FUCK UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP! YOU DON'T DESERVE TO BE GOVERNOR! IF MOOSE COULD VOTE IN ALASKA YOU'D BE GIVING HAND JOBS TO JOE SIXPACKS BEHIND THE LOCAL DINER! STAY HOME! PAL AROUND WITH TODD AND HIS SECESSIONST PALS! CALL PASTOR MUTHEE AND GET AN EXORCISM! JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP! GET OFF THE NATIONAL STAGE! TAKE THAT NASALLY FUCKING VOICE AND THAT SELF-SATISFIED SMIRK AND YOUR IDIOTIC REACTIONARY BULLSHIT OPINIONS ABOUT THE REAL AMERICA AND SHUT THE FUCK UP! WE'RE THE REAL AMERICA AND IF YOU REALLY WANT TO SERVE US YOU NEED TO DO NOTHING MORE THAN TO PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP!!
- Ian Gurvitz
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The logical fallacies in this video makes my brain implode.
Maybe I need a "renewed mind."
Or better yet: some black coffee.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Slinkachu's fabulous street art is so micro, it's macro. The sheer tiny scale of his artwork adds whimsy, and yet at times a bit of sadness. Scroll down his blog for some truly wonderful macro photography, with great concepts and compositions.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This is Your Nation on White Privilege
By Tim Wise
For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.
White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”
White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.
White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.
White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.
White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.
White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”
White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.
White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.
White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.
White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.
And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain…
White privilege is, in short, the problem.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I really hate hypocrisy. The Republicans excel at it. The Democrats are good, too, but in sheer masterful execution, the Republicans can't be beat.
Case in point: The nomination of this Sarah Palin character for the role of Vice-President.
The Washington Post has a great article out today about how she was hardly vetted by the McCain campaign to see if she was an adequate choice. Her selection process was so hurried (everyone else on the list took months of vetting) that McCain never even met with her face-to-face.
Why the hypocrisy? This is all about appeasing the cynical and brain-damaged Hillary Clinton freaks.
Let's not kid ourselves. Palin's decision is a desperate ploy to get supposedly independent voters for McCain. Cloaking this as if the Republicans actually care about women's social and political advancement is a crock o'shit.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008 12:07 AM
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Saturday, July 12, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Welcome to the future, folks! And it ain't pretty!
Think, monkeys and robots. Actually, monkeys controlling robots. And End Times involving monkeys clad in fab leather uniforms engineering robot wars against us poor, pathetic humans.
The Clock is ticking!
Homo Sapiens Cleansing or Bust!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
This made me laugh out loud.
Moody's, the corporation that ranks the credit ratings of big-time Wall Street borrowers and investors (conflict of interest, anyone?), discovered a "bug" (read as, bad programming) in their computer models used to assess Triple-A Ratings. Moody's gave Triple-A Ratings to any securities product under the sun. Even after discovering the error in early 2007, it took them a whole year to remove Triple-A status to the products.
Another example of the "invisible hand" of the free market spanking us on the ass, perhaps?
Monday, May 19, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Today's New York Times article about Indian call centers notifying and assisting Americans on debt issues is so deliciously dialectical and ironic that my head exploded.
I give the United States about twenty years before its imperial economy falls by the wayside.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
It's happened. I am a Suburbanite. How so? I crafted a letter to my quasi-fascist Home Owner's Association.
The HOA is trying to make what is called the Architectural Compliance (ACCC) even more authoritative by giving it the power to "automatically" levy fines (without the normal protocol of due process).
See what I wrote:
I want to thank everyone for participating in the discussion on the ACCC. It's interesting that I received so many pro-ACCC responses, and not one response that at least questioned the breadth of the authority given to the ACCC, let alone giving it even more, according to the proposed by-laws.
Let me make something explicitly clear: I don't mean to suggest that I am absolutely against the ACCC. However, after listening to some of my neighbors' experiences with the ACCC, and reading the proposed changes to the By-Laws, I am now VERY concerned as to where the ACCC (and perhaps the community at large) is heading.
I was told to check out surrounding communities to get a better idea as to why the ACCC is needed. So I did. I was told that I was going to "love the ACCC" after seeing Maryland City up close, as well as Adelphi, Langley Park, and some parts of Beltsville. What I saw were fine neighborhoods. There wasn't anything unusual about these homes. Most were normal, working-class ramblers that have sustained middle-class families for two generations. A few added elements to their homes which would not be Kosher in Montpelier, but overall I saw nothing wrong with it. I will not be swayed by this argument, which - to me - sounds a bit classist. Yes, the homes are much more humbly sized when compared to Montpelier's assortment of Colonials, but the communities as a whole are just fine (in that there isn't anything out of the ordinary).
Of course, and not surprisingly, many wondered about what would happen if a neighbor paints her house a gaudy shade of purple or pink, or if someone were to begin investing in chicken farming out of his backyard, and a slew of other largely Chicken Little scenarios. Yes, it is a possibility that someone would paint a house a strange color. Yes, it is possible that someone would pave over more yard than you may prefer. But really: how often does this happen, and how long does it really last? Yes, I was told about the purple house somewhere in our neighborhood (what, 30 years ago?), yet admitted that this was promptly re-painted; interestingly, there wasn't evidence of the ACCC being the executor of this action (perhaps it was shame?). No self-respecting real estate economist (not agent, mind you) would tell you that temporary changes to a home would lead to precipitous drops in home values. At the very worst, in a down market, potential buyers might think otherwise of buying your home when your neighbor paints his house pink, but - again - in a down market you have a lot of other things to worry about other than the temporary nature of your neighbor's choice of color.
One response dealt with the notion of ACCC offering "quality control" of the community. Frankly, quality control should have been applied by the MCA, in general, after the homes were built: insane drainage issues, irrational design of for air circulation, and the nuttiness of first-floor ducting should have been huge red flags when these homes were presented. But that's before my time, and - who knows - maybe Levitt Homes was taken to court.
All of this goes back to my initial comment: it's not that I am against general guidelines, or even rules. It's the micro-managerial way the ACCC oversees its mandate. A response stated that guidelines are a good thing, and I agree. But I ask you, do we want micro-managerial By-Laws. Please read this proposed By-Law (Article X, Section 5: Automatic Fines): "The ACCC shall have the power to automatically levy fines...(b)if there is a complaint from a Member regarding an uncut lawn, [and] (c) If a Member is cited for parking on the grass." Can we not agree that the wording here is very troublesome? What, pray tell, is an "uncut lawn." One week's growth? Two? Six inches? And how soon "after notifying a Member" will these fines accrue? A day? A second? What's worse is the entire notion of how this proposed By-Law is the EXACT ANTITHESIS of the word "community." Not only are we encouraged to spy on neighbors, but I would get a fine because an unknown neighbor thought my front lawn was a bit too shaggy for his or her taste. What made me laugh about this particular proposed By-Law was at how closely it resembles Neighborhood Watch Groups in Havana.
General guidelines are a good thing, but when guidelines become incredibly precise rules (no six-foot fences in my back yard? Why not?), then these lead to confusion and distrust. I have spoken to more than one neighbor who had an adjacent neighbor get a six foot fence without a problem from the ACCC, yet when he or she tried to get one, the ACCC denied the request; the ACCC relented only after much back and forth which left the neighbor angry, suspicious and distrusting of the ACCC. This leads to my most disheartening comment. I was told that all individuals, "regardless of age or gender or ethnic group or disability" must abide by the regulations. That goes without saying, but from what I have heard first-hand, the ACCC executes its authority in a less-than-egalitarian way. Are people of color receiving a disproportionately difficult time in having plans approved, or have them denied outright while others do not have the same problem? That is an incredibly contentious charge, and one I would like to research further.
Clearly, I chose to live in this community. Did I know what I was getting into? Clearly not, and I don't think that that's unusual. I am not content with the notion that the ACCC will be even more powerful than before. This does not bode well for the community. Do you want an active ACCC? Then I suggest we vote NO on the proposed By-Law changes which make the ACCC more authoritative, yet vaguely so. If I am going to get a fine for the length of my lawn, then I want the ACCC to tell me what the maximum height is, and show me by how much I exceeded it with a photo of the volunteer measuring it. This is what I mean by an active ACCC: if they want to micro-manage, let them do so by precisely written rules.
Finally, one person told me that the eradication of the ACCC would mean "free reign of the property." Quite ironic, I thought. I grew up in a largely white, middle-class development (sans HOA) in Rockville. Over the years, it has grown in size, and many Southeast Asian communities have moved in, along with huge amounts of Latinos and African-Americans. What I don't see are chicken coops, paved-over front lawns, gazebos by the driveway, large ("gaudy") images of the Virgin Mary, and other elements that would make the ACCC gasp for air.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
If you're a flag-waving, anti-"illegal immigrant" jingoist, and you claim that "those people" are making you pay more in taxes, and somehow make your life that much more difficult, please send me detailed economic analyses of how this is so.
Oh, wait you can't.
You can GTFO now, thanks!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The "On Faith" series in The Washington Post often has interesting commentary (Christopher Hitchens' half-drunken harangues notwithstanding).
There was a particularly interesting commentary by Feisal Abdul Rauf on how integrating aspects of Sharia Law would benefit British society.
I'd suggest you don't read the comments unless you want your brain to implode.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I'd vote for Obama, but I am an unaffiliated voter, and in Maryland you have to be either a Democrat or a Republican to vote in the primaries.