Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This post about online fundraising to cover the costs of health care hit close to home. My fine readers (um, all six of you?), I hope you're willing to open your wallets in the next few months. More info to come soon.

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf calls on Orwell to explain the psyche of what could cause a campus cop outfitted in riot gear and the tools of warfare to use such disproportionate force against peaceful, passive, unarmed college students:
My point is this: At Occupy Berkeley and Davis, you have a bunch of skinny, hyper-earnest teenagers with high SAT scores. The vast majority have never even been in a fight. One day, they all lock arms on the quad, so administrators call in U.C. police officers, guys who are routinely ridiculed for not being real cops, and sometimes get ribbed by their colleagues in Oakland for having a laughably easy beat.

But that isn't all.

The U.C. police officers are dressed in riot gear. They're given guns, batons, body armor, face shields, and spray canisters of pepper spray. And they're sent out in force. If they were in a video game they'd be ready to face off against some bad-ass foe with machine guns and assault rifles. We're used to seeing officers like that in pitched battles on the street, or about to rush into a house filled with drug dealers. These guys are facing teenagers blocking a sidewalk.

But once they're out there -- people all around, photographs being snapped, video cameras rolling -- it's the cops who feel powerless. The kids won't listen. Nobody wants to be the one to say, "Um, should we retreat?" Had they left, the crowd would've burst into cheers at their expense. No one wants to make the first move either. Some of them seethe. Others feel embarrassed, like the macho high school wrestler forced to square off against a girl in practice. If he goes too hard he'll feel bad. If he goes too easy and loses he'll be humiliated and ridiculed.

He goes too hard.


As Orwell put it, "I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool."

A UCSD grad student, employee, and union rep explains why Occupy Davis is fighting against privatization of public education:
[T]he police brutality we have witnessed over the past two weeks at Cal State Long Beach, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis is only a symptom of the privatization of these universities. Chancellors Katehi and Birgeneau want safe and inviting spaces on campus, but not for students, for private companies and corporations. When they suppress dissent on our campuses it is in the interest of privatization and clearly not student safety. We must be careful not to treat the symptom alone, but attack the disease itself, the disease of privatization.

The shift towards privatization should come as no surprise when the state stops supporting public education (h/t once again to the indispensable The Edge of the American West):
The real reason why tuition has been rising so much has nothing to do with Baumol, and everything to do with the government. Page 31 of the report is quite clear: “except for private research institutions,” it says, “tuitions were increasing almost exclusively to replace losses from state revenues or other private revenue sources.”

In other words, tuition costs are going up just because state subsidies are going down. Every time there’s a state fiscal crisis, subsidies get cut; once cut, they never get reinstated. And so the proportion of the cost of college which is borne by the student has been rising steadily for decades.

 Lt. John Pike pepper-sprays his way through Art History 101. (h/t Everyone On The Intertubes.)

Given that Chancellor Katehi doesn't care for dissent at universities in Greece, it's not surprising that she was so willing to call on the police to stifle dissent at Davis.

Very exciting news for my fellow Phoenicians: Sustainable Communities, the very promising, innovative HUD-EPA-DOT partnership that is providing federal funding for a genuinely holistic approach to sustainability and smart growth (“[T]o help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide. ... [T]his partnership will coordinate federal housing, transportation, and other infrastructure investments to protect the environment, promote equitable development, and help to address the challenges of climate change.”), gives a $2.9 million grant to the City of Phoenix for transit-oriented development around the light rail:
[T]he program will create a plan to provide families with access to quality and affordable housing, high-paying jobs, education and training programs and health care along the Metro light-rail line.
If successful, this would be precisely the sort of equitable sustainable development that Phoenix needs and Andrew Ross discussed in his recent NYTimes op-ed.

Kaid Benfield mentions a few of the other Sustainable Communities grants that excite him.

As such, the upcoming KJZZ/Fronteras series on moving beyond sprawl in the southwest is certainly well-timed.

The USFS starts a program to support agroforestry.

There's a reason why some people suggest we should call it “global weirding.”

Acknowledging the value of ecosystem services through public investments in green infrastructure in NYC.

On the topic of ecosystem services, my advisor and some of my favorite ES experts published a recent piece in Science on the “promise and peril” of payment for ecosystem services schemes.

Lawrence Livermore National Lab offers up a Sankey diagram of U.S. energy use in 2010.

A survey by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication reveals a majority of Americans support a revenue-neutral carbon tax — well, until the inevitable climate change denial propaganda campaign from Big Energy convinces them that we can't destroy our economy over a non-existent threat.

Sweet baby Jeebus, Herman Cain will only get chemo from a Christian doctor:
He did have a slight worry at one point during the chemotherapy process when he discovered that one of the surgeon's name was "Dr. Abdallah."

"I said to his physician assistant, I said, 'That sounds foreign — not that I had anything against foreign doctors — but it sounded too foreign," Cain tells the audience. "She said, 'He's from Lebanon.' Oh, Lebanon! My mind immediately started thinking, wait a minute, maybe his religious persuasion is different than mine! She could see the look on my face and she said, 'Don't worry, Mr. Cain, he's a Christian from Lebanon.'"

"Hallelujah!" Cain says. "Thank God!"

Alabama's draconian, racist immigration law is succeeding in harassing any who sounds too foreign:
Upon hearing of the incident, Alabama governor Robert Bentley called the state’s homeland security director to find out what had happened, the Washington Post reports. But there was no mistake; the arrest was exactly what was supposed to happen under the law that Bentley signed earlier this year. And, presumably, it’s what now happens on a routine basis to other, less-prominent people around the state, whether in the country legally or not.

“If it were not for the immigration law, a person without a license in their possession wouldn’t be arrested like this,” the homeland security director confirmed to the Post.
In response, the NYTimes calls for repealing this hateful law.

Watching Fox News actually makes you less informed:
“The (poll’s) results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all,” said Dan Cassino, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the poll. 
Well, that's not surprising given the ignorant, depraved discourse about the UCD pepper-spraying, for instance. And no, Megyn Kelly, pepper spray is not essentially a food product.

Justin Erik Halldór Smith uses the inane tradition of the annual White House turkey pardon to reflect on the profound immorality of capital punishment:
Execution cannot be fully normalized or proceduralized, and the attempt to do so is in a certain respect more terrifying than the murder to which it is a response: the murder was plainly a transgression, whereas the compensatory execution is allowed for in our books of law, as the culmination of normal procedure-following. The death penalty makes it possible for killing to be encompassed within the normal carrying out of a bureaucratic procedure, rather than remaining a transgression or a suspension of our ordinary commitments. To uphold capital punishment is therefore to make killing itself normal: something that it is not even for the great majority of murderers.

Killing is, in short, cruel and unusual, and this is why murderers are rightly despised. This is also why capital punishment fits so well as part of the system of justice of absolutist states, but cannot, and never will, have an uncontested place in a democracy.

Money, money, money: “A chart of almost all of it, where it is, and what it can do.”

Money, you say? Who owes what to whom in the Eurozone?

More on Jeopardy! bad-ass Roger Craig. (A side-note for my fellow Carls: his data-mining method is pretty much what Eric Hilleman did with college quiz bowl questions.)

Optical illusions! (h/t Wifey.)

I can't say I'm a big fan of much of Leonard Cohen's post-70s work, but “Show Me The Place” from his upcoming Old Songs sounds pretty fantastic:

And lastly, as part of my efforts to ensure that everything from Yo-Yo et al.'s The Goat Sessions promo tour is shared, here's a delightful interview (and performance) with the foursome from All Things Considered.

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