Monthly Shorts 5/22
A fun toy that shows how prison populations would change in response to various modifications. See how little ending the war on drugs actually does! See how cheaply you can punish drunk drivers! And remember that the majority of people in prison are in for violent crime, and a serious attempt to grapple with that will mean cutting prison sentences for violent crimes dramatically.
Well, it’s about 36 years late, but the DoJ now claims that they will no longer prosecute people for playing around with computer systems in good faith.
This article on the limitations of an elite-focused politics of identity-based deference is well-crafted, and has everything I wish I could have said.
I’ve discovered an actual origination of the million:statistic line, though it ends up being more plausibly attributed to Stalin than I’d initially expected. Kurt Tuchlsky, German journalist. He’s got a number of other quotes (more in German here, and some deeper quote history investigation here).
A country is not only what it does but what it tolerates.
Revolution! The people howls and cries, Freedom, that’s what we’re needing! We’ve needed it for centuries, our arteries are bleeding. The stage is shaking, the audience rock. The whole thing is over by nine o’clock.
You may have thought that the US military over-recruited among the nation’s poorest. Nope!
I’m not entirely clear on why. Pitch me why I should believe one theory (drug and criminal exclusions) over another (education requirements) over another (honor cultures and pride) over another (positive view of the state).
For your enjoyment, a FOIAed training game from the CIA! It’s not particularly *good*, but I think it’s interesting.
"Was Reading Recovery harmful? I wouldn't go as far as to say that," he said. "But what we do know is that the kids that got it for some reason ended up losing their gains and then falling behind."
Yes, a widely employed program for helping kids learn to read was harmful. If you make kids fall behind in reading, you have harmed them. Normally this is not complicated!
Speaking of complicated, this Pro Publica piece in Plain English on the failures of Arizona to support developmentally disabled people is fascinatingly written.
Max Gladstone is one of my favorite panelists at SFF cons, and this substack on Moon is a Harsh Mistress is good. But it’s also about something I’ve noticed, which is that many people seem to be very bad at reading, and particularly bad at reading famous books. It seems that once a book has a canonical interpretation, all of the other interesting parts get ignored. It happens to Smith and Keynes, it happens to Voltaire, it happens to everyone whose work is respected but forgotten.
And on the topic of history, here’s one from a previous set of vaccine concerns.
Come for the programming discussions, stay for the absurdity that is English place naming. How many High Streets can one city need?
Russia is still exporting oil and natural gas. But it can import almost nothing. This has led to a massive trade surplus. Many politicians tell me that this means good things for their economy.