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March 2nd, 2014
thesmithian

…one fanciful possibility is that we live in a computer simulation based on the laws of mathematics—not in what we commonly take to be the real world. According to this theory, some highly advanced computer programmer of the future has devised this simulation, and we are unknowingly part of it. Thus when we discover a mathematical truth, we are simply discovering aspects of the code that the programmer used.

more.

March 1st, 2014
thesmithian

'…if a restaurant decided they wanted to throw out a gay couple, that couple should…just go somewhere else. It isn't the government's role to protect the civil rights of people. If a business owner's God didn't like black people, for example, he could simply throw them out and put up a sign saying “no blacks allowed for religious reasons”…If a Muslim business owner didn't want to serve Jewish people, just go somewhere else, Jews. I presume [the writer] would appreciate some sort of app or website that kept a catalog of which businesses do business with which groups of people. That's the sort of society he wants to live in. Which was exactly how things were before the Civil Rights Act…'

Pretty shocking. But more importantly, why is it that [the writer] seems to think that it is the government’s role to protect the rights of business owners? The government shouldn’t protect a customer’s right to be treated fairly. Instead, that should left up to the market. But a business owner’s right to treat people unfairly, why that should be protected by government statute!

more.

February 9th, 2014
thesmithian
I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and old men and women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.
February 9th, 2014
thesmithian
One person tweeted to me that Jackie Robinson would never have gone into the stands when called a racial slur. This “Jackie Robinson: model minority” nonsense needs to be unpacked. First of all, that was 1947. Times have changed. Second, Jackie Robinson, a husband and a father, would have risked organized violence, as in lynch mobs, if he had pursed a physical response against fans. Third, Jackie Robinson was a 26-year-old Army veteran and a college graduate from UCLA. He also carried the hopes and dreams of masses of people with every at-bat. To ask a 19-year-old Marcus Smart [a college basketball player] to act in accordance with Jackie Robinson is a ridiculous weight to ask Mr. Smart to carry. And lastly Jackie Robinson, if you read his searing memoir, ‘I Never Had It Made,’ had real regrets about not going into the stands and pummeling racists with what he called “my despised black fists”. Jackie Robinson died way too young at age 53. He and his family always believed that his early death was connected to the stress that he had to carry precisely because he kept it all bottled in on direct orders from the Brooklyn Dodgers organization and on society’s orders, shaped by the pre-civil rights times in which he played.
February 5th, 2014
thesmithian

At a time when the tech industry has drawn a backlash in the…Bay Area, where [it is] increasingly portrayed as concerned with…narrow privileges at the expense of society at large, Congressman Michael Honda’s supporters have labeled Ro Khanna (above) a “Silicon Valley groupie” whose wealthy donors are trying to buy a congressional seat. Silicon Valley has traditionally stayed aloof from politics. But richer and more powerful than ever, the tech industry has become increasingly involved, both in lobbying and in fund-raising. And some of its boldface names have shown strong support for particular candidates, including Cory Booker of New Jersey in his successful run for the United States Senate and Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco’s campaign for a full term.

more.

February 2nd, 2014
thesmithian
The number of high-school graduates underserved or unserved by higher education today dwarfs the number of people for whom that system works well. The reason to bet on the spread of large-scale low-cost education isn’t the increased supply of new technologies. It’s the massive demand for education, which our existing institutions are increasingly unable to handle. That demand will go somewhere. Those of us in the traditional academy could have a hand in shaping that future, but doing so will require us to relax our obsessive focus on elite students, institutions, and faculty. It will require us to stop regarding ourselves as irreplaceable occupiers of sacred roles, and start regarding ourselves as people who do several jobs society needs done, only one of which is creating new knowledge.
December 22nd, 2013
thesmithian

'[at dating sites] white men and Asian women receive the most interest, whereas black men and black women receive the least amount of interest…'

Dating sites capture what we do, and play it back for us…People can say whatever they want—that race doesn’t matter, that they don’t see color—but when it comes to selecting a partner, and the selection criteria are formalized through profiles and response decisions, we, as individuals and a society, can no longer hide from ourselves. The numbers blare back at us…Both the user data and the presence of racial identification and preference in the first place are revealing, demolishing arguments about colorblindness and post-racial culture.

more, plus infographic, here.

December 14th, 2013
thesmithian
…What defines our era…is not really the insistence of those in authority that we all behave properly and politely. It is defined, instead, by the institutionalization of satire…For the moment, we are all quite happy to sink giggling into the sea.’
more.
November 30th, 2013
thesmithian
…of the more than a million Americans who are infected with HIV (there are fifty thousand new cases a year), many have no decent health care, and nearly a third are not even aware they are infected. Racism, homophobia, and poverty continue to drive much of the epidemic. Minorities have the highest infection levels and are least likely to have access to satisfactory medical attention or drug treatments. Obamacare will help, but how fast or how well, nobody yet knows. This should be repulsive to us all; those people need education immediately, but there is little public funding available to teach young gay African-American men how to have sex with each other safely. That’s the society we seem to have become.
Michael Specter, in response to this, about the rise in unprotected sex.
November 30th, 2013
thesmithian

The Affordable Care Act depends on richer people paying higher taxes to finance health insurance for lower-income people…

…Starting this year, a healthcare surtax of 3.8 percent is applied to capital gains and dividend income of individuals earning more than $200,000 and a nine-tenths of 1 percent healthcare tax to wages over $200,000 or couples over $250,000. Together, the two taxes will raise an estimated $317.7 billion over 10 years…the justification is plain: We are becoming a vastly unequal society in which most of the economic gains are going to the top. It’s only just that those with higher incomes bear some responsibility for maintaining the health of Americans who are less fortunate…This is a profoundly moral argument about who we are and what we owe each other as Americans. But Democrats have failed to make it…

more.

November 19th, 2013
thesmithian

'…it may well be that Zimmerman is yet another victim of the nefarious forces of black privilege. That he is helpless against the hordes of hyper-violent blacks, crazed women and the machinations of Eric Holder. That George Zimmerman continuing to live armed is evidence of sane public policy and a polite society.'

more.

October 24th, 2013
thesmithian

'Research on segregation tends to focus on where people live, as in their actual homes. But such residence-based study undervalues the segregation that happens outside the home. Interactions that carry real social weight tend to happen when we’re working, shopping, playing sports or going for a meal…'

more.

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