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|Thursday, January 1st, 2037|
|Friday, October 7th, 2016|
Hurricane Matthew hit rural southwest Haiti yesterday hardest, cutting much of the peninsula off from the rest of Haiti (roads and communications) for at least a day, and killing at least a few hundred people. If you have money to donate and are looking for good organizations to donate to, consider Fonkoze
Fonkoze arose from the Fondwa Peasants Association
, whose story you can see in the short film The Road to Fondwa
. Go ahead and watch it if you haven't seen it!
Fondwa Peasants Association founder and coordinator Father Joseph Philippe founded Fonkoze 6 years later, in 1994, as a rural development bank and microfinance instution, with the goal of getting poor Haitians economically organized in addition to just politically organized, and with a focus on poor women. They couple microfinance and banking services for the very-poor with literacy programs, long-term business skills mentorships, and a "road out of poverty" program that begins with giving a woman the materials to build a small house with water purification, and helping her build it.
Fonkoze has grown to cover the entire country, and when much of what Fondwa built was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake, Fonkoze made it possible for them to rebuild. Coincidentally, they had recently introduced a new earthquake and disaster insurance program before the earthquake hit, but it was new and not many people had signed up - so after the earthquake hit they decided to treat all of their members as if they had retroactively gotten the insurance.
Since 1996, they have been raising money through a sister organization in the US called Fonkoze USA, which has a 4-star rating on charitynavigator
. Fonkoze as a whole also has a platinum rating from GuideStar
, whose report includes a good summary of their impact.
With 8 branches and over 100 client centers in the hardest-hit southwest
, they are probably going to need extra resources to rebuild and resume providing services. As a long-lived homegrown organization with roots in every corner of Haiti, they seem like an important part of building Haiti's long term robustness and capacity to get out of poverty. Donate here
|Wednesday, August 24th, 2016|
I was reading about a congressional race in Colorado, where a woman named Morgan Carroll
is challenging Mike Coffman and seems to have a chance. What I read about her seemed promising so I wanted to know more, and wrote a friend in Colorado. He co-founded MassForDean here in Boston many years ago and I worked closely with him on that for a year, and on some other campaigns, before he moved to Colorado. He's stayed involved in politics, including a run for state rep, so I figured he'd know something about her and I trust his political judgement.
He wrote me back, and the first sentence was:
"I'm biased here, because Morgan and I have been together for about 10 years."
... also, donating to her campaign now.
|Saturday, June 18th, 2016|
I've been seeing a mockingbird in the park near my house on the way to work in the morning, or on the way back, for several months. Several times I've seen two of them together. One time in April I got a nice video of one of them singing in a tree
with my phone. And then in mid-May, I saw one of them tending a nest, in a small tree right by the basketball court:
|Saturday, April 30th, 2016|
|Somerville Open Studios - some new ones for me
[I asked permission to take photos at every studio pictured in links from this post.]
Before I went to open studios this morning I had the vague idea that I should try to find some new ones or go to a part of the city I don't usually explore during SoS weekend. Once I got there and picked up a map, my idea morphed: Why not spend the whole day going only to studios I'd never been to before - or so long ago that I didn't remember ever having been to them?stiltwalker
tricked me, by switching from displaying at his own place to teaming up with a few other artists and displaying at one of their homes! :) But I think his was the only work I saw today that I'd seen at past Somerville Open Studios, and it worked out really nicely. A majority of what I saw, I liked a lot, and I found several new favorites. Including, to my surprise, a few very close to Davis Sqaure. If you go Sunday, and haven't been to them, by all means visit:
#23 Nave Gallery Annex : https://goo.gl/photos/n74ue9oGHRXCYwpc8
They've got an exhibit of fiber art work by a variety of artists, many of them 3D. In the photos above are pieces by Emily Brodrick, Chris Motley, Ayelet Lindenstrauss Larsen, Gin Stone, and Jodi Colella.
#24 Darkmatter Park : https://goo.gl/photos/o2jddhMqA3an24Hv5
Katharine VanBuskirk has been here for nearly 20 years, and done almost every SoS, yet I've somehow missed it in the 10+ years I've gone to open studios. She and her husband collaborate on an elaborate garden of perennials, trees, pools, rock arrangements, paths, sculptures, and flowers. They've got some dogs even I, not at all a dog person, think are cute :) She told me they also have a couple of nuthatches that nest nearby and visit often, but I didn't see them.
#26 Ceramics in the basement on Willow Ave : https://goo.gl/photos/DY8KweVUrdyxbVnK6
Julie Peck, Sara Shelton, and Eileen de Rosas, really packed this small basement! Recognizably different styles, though they all go together well, and I appreciated how all of them worked birds into many of their pieces :)
#27 Julie Murphy : https://goo.gl/photos/jYG6SXJPoA7gtNxj6
This was her first time ever displaying her work in a public show or event... and I was the first person to ever buy one of her pieces :) It's the bluish one with trees, bees and nautilus shells at lower right in the third photo, so you won't see that one there, because I have it. But you should totally go and see the rest in person!
#44 Miller Street Studios : https://goo.gl/photos/hNt7DuT5v1LwScxPA
Almost 50 artists at this studio building, but very few participate in SoS. Only two listed on the SoS guide, though there were actually three open, and they have shared studios so you can see their studiomates' work, plus there's a bunch of stuff on the walls, making you wish you could go past some of those closed doors.
In that photo album you can see pieces by or studios of Sandra Allik (mixed media paintings often including wood), Christopher Pullman (who did some really intriguing paintings of a bunch of old potatoes!), Linda Lichtman (glass), and Leo Muellener (large paintings), as well as some of the art-strewn hallways.
A couple of the artists I spoke to said they want to entice more of their neighbors to participate in SoS, and one of them (Sandra Allik, if I remember correctly) was collecting a list of people coming by who hadn't been there before. If you haven't been there before, go and sign her book!
Edit: Although her studio at Miller St is not open for SoS, I just learned that Jodi Colella - one of the artists displaying at the Nave annex - made the large fiber pieces in the hallway at the beginning of this photo set.
#49 60 Park Street : https://goo.gl/photos/erMXkmm7oWSx7Hct6
In this album are some of Brad Carreiro's wood lamp light things, Rachael Holmes' intriguing knit bags and shapes, and whimsical robot-themed paintings by Pecan, as well as the delightful front of the house with its cornoctopus in the yard. If you go in person you'll also see work by a couple of other artists.
As a bonus, here's a nifty plant arrangement by Thomas Fraley at #28 : https://goo.gl/photos/oCg7HtcmpzAvzuCe7
- plants aren't what he's displaying, but he works with professionally and I hope he displays a garden in the future. He'd never seen Darkmatter (#24) so I suggested a visit.
[Also posted this at http://davis-square.livejournal.com/3677443.html
|Monday, March 14th, 2016|
|What about Michigan?
Since my post concluding that Clinton will get the Democratic nomination
, people keep asking me if I think anything changed after Bernie Sanders' surprise upset win in Michigan.
First of all, I'm overjoyed that he won! I'd love to see him continue to do well in future primaries, and I think it will be a very good thing for the Democratic party and for the country if he does.
Second, this makes me feel like I should not have looked at the polls, and just written based on what I said was doing: Looking at the states that already voted, and extrapolating the same voting patterns. Polls shortly before an election are usually pretty good at predicting the results, but actual voting in primaries has long seemed to be a much more solid predictor of subsequent primaries. And based on that, Michigan's result was not at all surprising. Industrial midwestern states' Democratic primaries are similar to Massachusetts but a bit better for Bernie, while mid-Atlantic and southern New England states are a little worse for him. Based on Super Tuesday, I would've predicted he'd probably lose the mid-Atlantic and southern New England states, but win most of the industrial midwest by small margins (with a bigger margin in Wisconsin, and PA being the one he's most likely to lose).
However... I actually did most of my analysis for the last post before looking at the Michigan polls
. Sure, I knew that Clinton led him by a lot in the midwest in polls earlier in the season, but I assumed that lead would disappear like it had in plenty of other states where she started with a big lead. Early polls very often favor the bigger name in the race. In other words, that post reflected my conclusions based on a belief that Sanders would probably win Michigan narrowly. Then
I looked at the polls, and to my surprise Clinton's lead was still very large on three polls released just in the past week (as of the day before the Michigan primary). So I changed my wording a little bit to reflect that.
For me, it wasn't so much Sanders' narrow win in Michigan that was a surprise, it was the polls! Michigan's actual result was very much what I expected until the last couple of days, when I looked at those polls before finishing my post.
That said, let's look at the numbers a bit more specifically...
Since Super Tuesday:
Kansas: Sanders 23, Clinton 10
Nebraska: Sanders 15, Clinton 10
Maine: Sanders 16, Clinton 9
Louisiana: Sanders 14, Clinton 37
Michigan: Sanders 67, Clinton 63
Mississippi: Sanders 4, Clinton 32
Total: Sanders 139
, Clinton 161
On the same day Sanders' remarkable upset win in Michigan netted him 4 more delegates than Clinton, her long-expected small-news overwhelming win in Mississippi netter her 28 more delegates than him. In total that day, 166 more delegates were determined. Since Super Tuesday, 300 pledged delegates were determined, leaving only 2724 to go. Clinton's lead is now 221.
(Note: I'm using numbers from thegreenpapers.com, who I've found have better calculations of how primary and caucus results will translate into state delegates than much of the press. But the differences are slight, so it doesn't make a big difference.)
What the above numbers highlight is what really stood out when I looked at Super Tuesday: It's not just that Clinton was winning all the southern states, it's the scale of her wins. Sanders' huge 22-point win in New Hampshire made big news, and he went on to score very solid wins in caucus states - 19 points in Colorado, 22 points in Minnesota, 14 points in Nebraska 29 points in Maine. While this was happening, Clinton scored astounding blowout wins in the much more populated southern states: 59 points in Alabama, 66 points in Mississippi, 48 points in Louisiana, 43 points in Georgia, 47 points in South Carolina, and a mere 36 points in Arkansas. Clinton literally beat him more than 4-to-1 in several states, and even 5-to-1 in a couple. The only place Sanders got a comparable win was his home state of Vermont.
These wins didn't make as big a splash in the news as New Hampshire and Michigan, because Clinton was expected to win these states all along. The news is much too focused on who "wins" each state, and it's misleading. Democratic primaries award delegates proportionally. The difference between winning 51-49 vs. losing 49-51 is a huge deal for the press, but it may be nothing
in terms of delegates (as in Massachusetts, where Clinton "won" but Sanders and Clinton will get 45 and 46 delegates each; often a 51-49 win results in an even split). The difference between winning 55-45 vs. 59-41 may actually be bigger in terms of delegates, but won't have much effect on how the press talks about it.
If I'd looked at the numbers after Super Tuesday and seen Clinton ahead by about 100 delegates, I would've written a very different post. I could clearly see a path for Sanders to make up a 100 delegate difference, and that path did indeed lie through winning the midwestern states like Michigan, not necessarily by a lot. ( Let"s look at that path in more depth...Collapse )
If Sanders were at a 100 delegate deficit, and he performed really well after Super Tuesday, he might cut that deficit down to as little as 40 delegates (but more realistically 60-something). Could he make up the difference by winning 475-delegate California? Sure, maybe. California votes June 7th, and if Sanders were that close to Clinton that far out, which would be astonishing, people might feel the momentum is with him, and California might really turn out for him.
But Clinton is leading by 220, not 100. She didn't just win the south, she won a series of overwhelming blowouts, and her lead in delegates already elected is just too large. Barring some huge shift in the dynamic of the campaign, Sanders isn't going to be able to cut that lead down to even 100 before California, let alone 60. He'd need to win by almost 80% in California to gain over 100 delegates, and chances are he'll be well over 100 behind.
Will Sanders win more states than Clinton for the rest of the campaign? Perhaps he will. Is he going to gain more delegates than Clinton from now on? He very well may - and in fact, I think it's quite likely. I expect him to cut down on her lead, and I very much want him to.
Sanders has already surprised the political world by showing he's a real and credible candidate who had a chance to win. With each win from now on, and with each gain in delegates cutting into Clinton's lead, he'll continue giving people the perception of an even race. Clinton will have to keep trying, really trying, in order to keep earning the delegates she needs. She cannot relax, and the campaign remains real. At the end, Sanders will have accomplished a lot, and helped bring about a major shift in the Democratic party, one that we can keep building on.
But Clinton doesn't need a big lead to get the nomination. If she goes to the convention with even one more pledged delegate than Sanders, she will be the Democratic nominee. Will Sanders cut Clinton's lead down all the way from over 200 now, to 0 at the end? Unless some big unexpected surprise (bigger than beating the polls in Michigan) shakes up the race, then no, he will not.
Edit: Republican primary
Today (March 15th), we find out whether Trump wins both Florida and Ohio, giving him a good shot at winning a majority of delegates and the nomination, or whether he loses one of them (or maybe both), making it much more likely that he won't get a straight majority, and the Republican convention will be contested.
|Tuesday, March 8th, 2016|
|Monday, February 1st, 2016|
|Friday, January 8th, 2016|
|Six-word book descriptions
Alice posted this elsewhere:
"Describe your favorite book in exactly six words. And we can guess which it is!
mine: a dude hates a big whale."
I can't pick one favorite book, but I wrote six-word summaries of several of my favorites:
- Bear leads king's rise and fall
- Layered loops of logic form thought
- War distraction to sneakily destroy ring
- Wildlife links mountain strangers' love lives
- Europeans' militarism escalates far beyond expectations
- Doors lead to adventure under London
- Warning: Factory cuts trees animals need
- Injured brains work in bizarre ways!
- Teens transported to sinister Escheresque place
What's your favorite book in six words?
|Sunday, December 6th, 2015|
|Tuesday, November 17th, 2015|
|Massachusetts Governor's office in denial about refugees?
This morning I called Governor Charlie Baker's office to express my dismay at his anti-refugee comments, which seem designed to pander to xenophobes. Spoke with an aide at his office who immediately got argumentative and defensive. She seemed in denial, which is a bad sign if that's the prevailing way of thinking at that office.
Oh no, she said, he only meant that since the Syrian government can't provide us with good data for background checks, we need to wait until they fix that. Really? What she's saying is that anytime there's a major civil war somewhere, we need to wait until that war is over and the country can put its civil service and census system back on track, before we accept any refugees fleeing that war? It's a clearly insane position, that she wouldn't even think about what it meant.
When I mentioned, several times, that Massachusetts doesn't even have a way to prevent refugees from coming here if the Federal government lets them into the country, she repeatedly ignored that and pretended I didn't say it. When I said, several times, that it's clear the only reason Baker would speak up about this in the way he did is to pander to xenophobes, she interrupted every time. She doesn't want to see it, doesn't want to acknowledge anything about it. It's like the governor's office is trapped in a self-righteous bubble of willful denial about what he's doing and saying.
If you wanna try your luck, 617-725-4005. Be calm. Be prepared for them not to listen. Maybe a large enough number of people saying what they really don't want to hear will get some of them to start thinking about what their governor is really doing, even if they'd rather not think about it because it's so disgusting and uncomfortable.
If you call, please comment here and tell us how it went?
|Thursday, November 12th, 2015|
|Support Syrian Refugees
In the past couple of months I've called members of Congress several times to ask them to get more Syrian war refugees into the US. The Obama administration announced earlier this fall that they would admit 10,000 more this year, but compared to the scale of the problem, that's almost a joke (though it's no joke for the 10,000 individuals!) - there are more than 10 million people fleeing this war, so 10,000 is less than 0.1% of them. As a wealthy country of over 300 million, we can certainly do better.
Of course what the President do on his own is limited, without more funding. Well, now some Senators have introduced an actual bill to do something about it:http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/senate-should-pass-bipartisan-bill-provide-funding-better-address-syrian-refugee
S.2145, the "Middle East Refugee Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act
" of 2016, would provide $1 billion in funds to resettle approximately 100,000 more refugees in the US, and improve conditions in refugee camps in Jordan and the region. And it was introduced by a Republican and a Democrat together, which gives it a shot of rising above the hyper-partisan nature of most votes in the Senate. But so far, all of the additional cosponsors
have been Democrats.
The Senate repeatedly passed emergency supplemental appropriations to fund the Iraq war, totalling hundreds
of billions of dollars. That war caused a large part of this refugee crisis, because the extremist groups who infiltrated and took over Syria's civil war, and have lengthened it and made it so unresolveable, were nearly all products of our Iraq invasion. ISIS, Al-Nusrah, and so on - they were created by people who recruited in Iraq, trained in Iraq, gained experience and built networks in Iraq, and then came from Iraq to Syria when the opportunity presented itself. Surely the same Senate that spent hundreds of billions to put tens of millions of civilians in crisis and misery, can vote for just $1 billion to rescue some of them. (they should do more, but this is a good start)
Look at that list of cosponsors
. If one of your Senators is on it, call them and thank them! They've all been getting some calls from anti-immigrant people upset at the thought of resettling refugees. And whichever of your Senator(s) aren't on the list - call them and ask them to cosponsor!
Especially if they're a Republican, because getting a couple of additional Republican supporters is probably what will make the difference in whether this passes or not.
|Tuesday, November 10th, 2015|
|much-improved offline maps
With the new offline maps features in Google Maps, you can search for places, get directions, navigate, and look up place info, while offline: http://google-latlong.blogspot.ca/2015/11/navigate-and-search-real-world-online.html
I've been using these features in private for a while, waiting eagerly for it to become public! Now I can use this when other people are around, and tell them about it :)
One thing that could trip you up: When you're offline and using an offline map area, you can only get directions to places within that offline area. If you're in the city and going out to the mountains for the day, an easy mistake to make is to just download an offline map for the mountain area where you think there will be no cell coverage. You want to include the city in the offline area you download, if you will want to get directions *from* the mountains back to somewhere in the city later.
|Tuesday, September 15th, 2015|
"... and since most economists are also human,"
-- Richard Thaler
, an economist, in Misbehaving
|Thursday, September 10th, 2015|
|Thursday, July 16th, 2015|
|Alternative to the Iran nuclear deal
So the major powers, with US leadership, struck a deal with Iran where Iran limits a bunch of their nuclear material and facilities and agrees they're only using it for peaceful purposes, and allows ongoing inspections to prove it, while the rest of the world drops various sanctions and starts letting Iran trade again, improving their economy. And as expected, a lot of Republicans are saying this is horrible and we should reject it, because it's not good enough. Their position seems strange because all of them also assert - and it's true - that *without* this deal, it's much easier for Iran to build a nuclear weapon if they want to. Leave aside for a moment the fact that they haven't for so many years even though they probably could've, suggesting they probably haven't wanted to. Still, what do these Republicans want? No restrictions, and no inspections? The status quo seems more dangerous.
Of course we know what they want: War. Tom Cotton, the Republican Senator who's been one of the leaders of opposition to any deal with Iran, has said so explicitly
. He also believes that war with Iran is inevitable, so we might as well have it now rather than later, so at least his position is kinda clear. Other Republicans who aren't quite ready to come out and say "yes, let's have a war!" have more trouble explaining what they think the alternative to this deal is. What's so great about the status quo?
But here's the thing they miss and that for some reason I have seen very little mention of in the press:We cannot get the pre-negotiation status quo back.
International sanctions against Iran have worked because they've been truly international. But Russia and China have never been particularly enthusiastic about it. They went along with the western powers because our demands seemed so reasonable: we just wanted to prod Iran into agreeing to negotiate with us about their nuclear program, to make sure they weren't going to develop a nuclear weapon. Preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons was something China and Russia could get behind, but they were never much into the broader desire of many western countries to limit Iran's power and influence more broadly.
Well, Iran did what we asked. They've agreed to a deal that was more than most people thought they would. The stated purpose of sanctions has been achieved.
If the US rejects this deal, China and Russia are going to say "if the US can't even take yes for an answer, fuck it; there's no point to these sanctions." They want to trade with Iran, and they want to sell weapons to Iran. If we accept the deal, they may hold back for a while on weapons, or limit them somewhat, but if we reject the deal, I'm pretty sure they're not going to want to have anything to do with any further international sanctions on Iran.
This process wasn't just about negotiating with Iran, it was also a negotiation with China and Russia. Accepting the deal keeps them in too. Going back to no deal means giving up the international consensus too.
|Friday, June 26th, 2015|
2003-06-26: Lawrence v. Texas
ruling, in which "the Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by extension, invalidated sodomy laws in 13 other states, making same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state and territory."
2013-06-26: United States v. Windsor
ruling, in which the Court "held that restricting U.S. federal interpretation of 'marriage' and 'spouse' to apply only to heterosexual unions, by Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), is unconstitutional"
2015-06-26: today :) (Obergefell v. Hodges
(Stonewall riots began June 28th, which puts Pride around now. Just a few days off!)
|Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015|
Since I didn't really like Google Hangouts for texting (it's very nice for video but I don't do video calls much outside work), I have mostly used other things - IRC, SMS, WhatsApp, ... - with people whenever they had those other things. But because Alice switched back to a dumbphone shortly after I gave her an iPad, we switched to using Hangouts and for a number of months she's been the only person I use Hangouts with frequently. Now I have really strong positive associations with Hangouts, because every time I see the Hangouts notification I know it probably means a message from Alice. Hangouts = joy, usually. This is making me like Google Hangouts even though it's irrational - it's not that the app/service has changed or become more likable. Huh.
|Friday, April 17th, 2015|
|kerning the car
When you park the car and realize it's not positioned quite right relative to other cars or the curb, and you move it slightly to get the spacing just right, you are kerning the car.
actually said "returning the car" but once I mis-heard him we decided it was a useful turn of phrase)
|Wednesday, April 15th, 2015|
|Hugos and Puppies
I'd like to read some of the Hugo Award nominees in the next few months, but avoid spending time on less-good nominees who are only there due to the sadness of the nutty puppies*
gave me a link to a puppy-free slate
, but that's not exactly what I want. Some books & stories good enough to have had a great shot at the Hugo ballot without any puppies, were probably included on the puppy slates. I'd like to read some of those, but don't have time to read everything, so I want to avoid the ones that would near-certainly not have been on on a puppyless ballot.
People who are familiar with a bunch of the entries on the 2015 Hugo ballot
, which ones do you recommend spending my time on?
* For a long version of the puppies thing, you can read George R.R. Martin's series of posts on his LiveJournal starting with this one
and continuing from there. For a short version... anyone got a link to a good short summary for readers who don't know anything about this and are curious?
Edit: This looks like a good readable summary that doesn't require that you already know a lot about it: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/13/1376743/-Freeping-the-Hugo-Awards
You do need to know what "freeping" refers to: Overwhelming a poll/vote/election by getting a large number of people from outside its usual community (people who would otherwise not have been involved) to all vote in the same way.
Edit2: Another good piece, with more historical context:http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121554/2015-hugo-awards-and-history-science-fiction-culture-wars