Archive for January, 2010

Webmining

January 31, 2010

So webmining is really just glorified content jacking, but I think it’s a worthwhile pastime if it helps disseminate useful information. I stole this from a highschool classmate’s blog. Probably one of the quickest learners i’ve ever met and even though I don’t always agree with his political views I’ve learned a lot of politics, economics, and nuclear power from reading his blog. Ladies and gentleman, Keith Yost on Haiti:

Link to his blog:

Economic progress saves human lives / economic development is freedom
I love free speech, I love equality, I love security, I love civil liberties and motherhood and apple pie. But if the tragedy in Haiti drives home anything, it should be that economic development trumps all those things as an end goal. Your poorly constructed home does not respect your freedom of life. The ceiling falling down on you does not care whether you are equal with your neighbor. The concrete you are trapped under does not care about your freedom of expression. Liberty is not simply the absence of barriers, but it is the ability to exercise one’s rights, which is based in economic output, much as life is not simply the absence of someone killing you, it is also the ability to procure food, water, and shelter. We like to think of the gross domestic product as something separate from liberty or security, that dollars do not equal lives or rights, but governments are not the only constraining factor on our freedoms as human beings– the physical world often sets the boundary conditions. If Haiti had been a wealthier country, this tragedy would have been orders of magnitude less. Economic development matters, and we should be willing to sacrifice much in order to obtain it.

We still don’t know how to make foreign aid work
Haiti has been a ward of the world for decades. We have had U.N. operations there forever, they have been receiving aid for time immemorial, they have been poor and suffering since the dawn of time. We cannot point to any single factor that distinguishes them from their wealthier, faster-growing neighbors, we cannot point to any macro-initiatives that can promise them a route out of poverty. By all means, increase foreign aid, but do so under the premise that a significant fraction of your aid dollars will not be direct transfusions to suffering states, but instead will seek to better understand the problem we face.

U.S. immigration policy runs counter to our basic sense of human decency
As little as we know about making foreign aid work, there seems to be a pretty straightforward way to improve the lives of Haitians: let them immigrate to the United States. Immigration policy, as it exists, is already pretty nonsensical. I understand, and agree with motives such as screening for criminals or those with contagious diseases, but it is quite a stretch to say that current policy was constructed with only those goals in mind. Very clearly, current immigration policy was set up under the illusion that each immigrant to the United States would be a net harm to the existing stock of people in the country. Despite there being virtually zero support in either evidence or theory, many still buy into this notion that free trade and immigration are a threat to our economic well-being.

Poverty is not a sufficient condition, and is probably not even be a necessary condition, for international terrorism
Haiti is poor. They’ve been poor for a while. They’ve got a government that has never really worked well, they’ve got crime, they’ve got U.S. interference in their domestic affairs, they’ve got a dozen other dummy variables that they share in common with terrorist havens, and yet there is no Haitian equivalent for Al Qaeda. As a data point in a linear regression on terrorism, they stand in defiance of much of what is commonly presumed, and they are not alone. It’s hard to claim conclusively one way or another, but I would hazard a guess that ideology is as important to breeding terrorism as failed states are.

Covering Haiti purely as a human interest/tragedy story is not responsible journalism
Look, it’s action Anderson Cooper. He’s running, jumping, saving Haitian kids. Let’s all watch him and Sanjay as they report from this devastated island state.

Spare me. True journalism is meant to inform public decisions. It is either the direct distillation of expert opinion into layman understanding, or it is a medium for discussion and debate of opinions. When facts are reported, they either tie into public decision-making in some way, or they are nothing more than entertainment. I’ve already said it: discussing Haiti and treating it like something that can inform public decision-making is taboo. But it is the role of journalists to challenge taboo. If there is nothing to be gleaned from the experience of Haiti, then the major network coverage of it is really a form of entertainment programming, meant to captivate the viewer rather than inform them. Television stations and cable TV channels have every right to fill their airtime with entertainment– it’s not as if we look at E! and say, “Now how come they aren’t talking about Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission?”– but for a channel that aspires to discuss the news, it should be recognized that right now, they are largely derelict in their duty. In my experience, American news channels are the worst at this. They will spend entire days watching coal mine collapses, or airplane accidents, or kidnappings, obsessively interviewing every person even remotely connected to the event, without feeling any need to justify such coverage. The BBC offers an excellent counterpoint: they discuss not only the facts, but also provide a context in which to place these facts. Instead of doing their 23rd interview with a traumatized Haitian, they would be discussing the history of Haiti, its circumstances before the earthquake, the future that the country faces, the repercussions of the quake and so on, and they would move on to another part of the world well before they were beating a dead horse. We’re nearly two weeks into the quake, and still, if you turn on CNN, odds are pretty good they’re going to be discussing Haiti. This, at a time when the health care reform debate is nearing a climax, the president is about to deliver a state of the union speech, and there are major electoral developments. In the U.S, let alone the rest of the world, there are plenty of stories to compete with Haiti. The current division of media attention does not serve the American public well.

Letter writing campaign

January 30, 2010

Everyone, especially my parents used to tell me that being Bilingual was a big advantage and I didn’t really believe them until I started looking for work. My first job out of highschool, my first engineering internship, and maybe my first law related job will be because I speak decent Spanish. I hope my kids speak Spanish, and that if their mom speaks something useful they learn that too. FTK(For the Kids!) FTW

I’m ambivalent about most of C-West’s body kits, but this one is still magical for me. Sleek headlights are a must for Fd’s.

Sleek Headlights

For the kids

January 27, 2010

Excited about next week’s interview. The organization advocates for immigrants and kids. Two of my favorite groups of people! I’m also partial to old women who think i’m handsome, coaches with funny accents, and girls with a self deprecating sense of humor.

Galvanize

January 22, 2010

All these applications for internships and fellowships have me feeling young again. I haven’t gotten anything yet, but just going through the application process and putting things in the mail has me feeling optimistic about the future. I feel like anything is possible when i’m busy.

Q-Tip is pushing 40.

They Said Robert

January 21, 2010

My favorite R Kelly songs are I Wish, Sex in the Kitchen, and the whole Trapped in the Closest series(it’s 20 songs long!).

Supermade

January 18, 2010

Does anybody still say bitchmade? I think it all the time.

Supermade 'Instant Gentleman' Body Kit!

Stripes

January 14, 2010

Happiness in January 2010 is getting another stripe on my belt. I love bjj.

Mayor of Sacramento

January 11, 2010

I’m sure i’ll regret this, but so far law school has definitely been less stressful than my undergraduate experience. Even though I’m not a big fan of the Socratic method, and even though you don’t get any real feedback about your progress until a month after the semester is over, the ideas are generally easier to understand and it’s less work. The only drawback is I miss the rush I used to get from solving a tough problem. Even the longer engineering problems we usually got assigned took at most an hour or two to finish and you could usually check your answer somehow. Getting an engineering exam question right is like posterizing the guy on the other team who’s been blocking everyone else’s shot and then walking off the court to kiss your hot girlfriend. I wish I could dunk and had a hot g/f.

Before he was mayor of Sacramento. KJ was a high flyer.

Pocket Rockets

January 10, 2010

Why did I watch Smokin Aces 2 today? It was bad. Grosamundo, disgusto, awful. Total waste of  Autumn Reeser and that guy who shows up in a lot of British action movies.

Los Bukis

January 6, 2010

My favorite taco shop closed, so we went to a different place today. Then a guy who looked like a junky asked for money to buy food, so of course I offered to buy him some tacos. As a rule, I buy food for junkies and candy from kids even when I know the kids are lying about the candy being a fund raiser(i support the hustle).  Then the guy said he wanted $.80 to go buy a burrito down the street instead, then he said he’d sell me a brand new Bukis CD for $2.00. At this point I felt bad for the guy cuz he really was a junky and because the Bukis aren’t all that popular anymore. I knew in my heart that he was going to have a hard time selling that cd…so I gave him $.50. Shame on me.