Data is inherently plural, even as I use “is” as the verb. This short post is about the most radioactive place in NY state. I find these explorations of the edges and outliers interesting. It reminds me that even when we look at a big dataset, it’s still composed of individual observations – people, places, events.
What is dirt?
From this article on kitty litter, we learn that:
it’s strip-mined dirt that is transported overland via combustion engines and ends up in landfill where it never biodegrades.
But isn’t “dirt” pretty much the definition of biodegraded, past tense? I mean, what does compost, bodies, dead trees, and wet paper turn into? Dirt.
The NYT has described the case in this article with this blurb:
The case presents an important question that several judges have urged the Supreme Court to decide: When may students be punished for things they say outside of school?
In my world, we call that a rhetorical question. The answer surely ought to be “Never.” The idea that schools get a little extra power than the state in general goes back to the landmark case of Tinker, in which the Court held that students could wear black armbands in school to protest the Vietnam War. The standard it established was that student speech was protected when it did not materially disrupt school activities.
Here are some quotes from Tinker that should clarify why I think it’s abhorrent to free speech that cases like this even get past summary judgment:
It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.
Tinker, at 506.
A student’s rights, therefore, do not embrace merely the classroom hours. When he is in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours, he may express his opinions, even on controversial subjects like the conflict in Vietnam, if he does so without “materially and substantially interfer[ing] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school” and without colliding with the rights of others.
Tinker, at 512–13.
But conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason – whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior – materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.
Tinker, at 513.
Tinker talked about expanding classroom freedom of expression to all school activities. Nowhere did Tinker even suggest that the school could extend its reach to actions outside of school and school-sponsored activities.
This case, involving a rap/hip-hop song, is no different for the purposes of free speech analysis from a letter to the editor or a poem published in a literary magazine. Whether you like this form of expression or not, and whether you snicker at the names of the artists coming to the student’s support or not: you ought to recognize that the problem here starts with the restriction of speech that takes place outside of school and ends with what is almost certainly viewpoint discrimination – I doubt anyone can argue that the school would have punished the student for writing a song supportive of the lecherous coaches. That’s the dirty secret hidden inside of almost all of these cases: schools almost always only seek to regulate speech with which they disagree. Viewpoint discrimination is effectively an automatic loss in free speech analysis.
The article “What ISIS Really Wants” was good; it was also long, which makes me wonder whether enough people will read it.
I’m not sure that ISIS will choose any path that doesn’t force us to kill them all.
And I’m not comfortable with a course of action that turns us into isolationists. What would the world be like if that choice had won out during the Revolutionary War, and France had stayed out? If WWI and WWII left Europe to its own devices? What about Rwanda? (Oh, yeah, never mind on that one.) We should stop crimes of this magnitude around the world just as we should stop the beating of a child on the sidewalk in front of us.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
JFK Inaugural Address, 1961.
Whether you’re on the left or the right, Republican or Democrat, Green or Libertarian, Kennedy’s sentiments are fundamentally American: this promise is the core of what America is – just as it invigorates us looking outward, it frightens those who have more nefarious plans.
What America does not lack is a vast number of brave men and women who would, will, and do risk their lives in defense of others. That’s all the goal that’s needed: defending others. They/we don’t need a geopolitical agenda, oil reserves, or trade routes. The safety and well-being of fellow humans is a sufficiently compelling justification for these brave folks. If those soldiers were given a choice, they would bear the psychological burden of killing all those who would rape, enslave, torture, and butcher these people.
Building a big Internet company is hard, and I guess not everything can be earth-shattering.
Sometimes, developments underwhelm: who at twitter thought that “hearts and likes” vs. “stars and favorites” was worth engineering time?
I have been similarly stymied by the changes in UI for changing apps in iOS versions. In iOS 4, a double-click of the home button led to a series of app icons scrolling by in the tray, one after the other, with the most recently used app to the left, and older apps to the right.
By iOS 7, the small tray icons were replaced by larger app previews scrolling from the most recently used app on the left with previous apps to the right.
In iOS 9, the app previews are overlapping, so there’s always a multiple set of targets, not all of which are active, AND the order of recent apps is reversed, with the most recent app on the right and the older apps on the left. WTF, Apple? All the problems in the world and in the iPhone and someone decided that it was most important to focus on changing the metaphor and the usability of this feature?
I am picking on Apple here because this series of changes seems so small and mostly trivial that I find it hard to believe that someone tested the new version in iOS 9 with users and got noticeably better results. I, at least, find it consistently harder to close the app I want to because it’s not perfectly centered in the sliding stack of cards, and I am doubtful that swapping L-R for R-L modeling of recent usage is supported by meaningful research. But I don’t know. It does make me wish that I could pick and choose these minor lame “upgrades” and the company might instead focus on improvements or bug fixes instead of things that look more like change for change’s sake.
“Bravery is for other people,” Seth Godin writes. He talks about how that just ain’t true.
We’re supposed to make the choices that don’t require our kids, or someone else’s, to grow up to be Audie Murphy or Rosa Parks. We’re supposed to make a series of small, non-dramatic, slightly better for the world choices that eventually elide the dramatic from our lives – at least in terms of problems we created.
Some interesting math to note in this article comparing the cost of saving vs. borrowing for college. Gotta love math. Save for your kids, or they’ll be even more broke than you might fear you’ll be.
(Of course, there’s no annex here for adding on the costs of lifetime support for a child with autism.)
Need a reason why I write blog posts and books and scout startup clients and work on startup ideas? Do the math.
I can’t even describe how hot this is. Fire.
I shouldn’t even post this, it’s so damn salacious.
Someone once told me that she hadn’t seen me in a bad mood. (It was after only four weeks of knowing me, so maybe there’s a sample size problem.)
I said that something had annoyed me the week before. Things still bother me, but not for long and not as much. Remembering things I used to know about how I think about, approach, and deal with the world.
In fact, as I write this…
I realize it’s not even that things bother me — it only bothers me when I’m not sure about my solution or course of action. Everything that is, just is. No being bothered by all of that: it’s not helpful.
I can feel the changes in me when something else is stressing me — that’s what leads to my less, um, constructive reactions to otherwise meaningless things. So, I focus my efforts on dissociating the two: divide and conquer. In fact, I think that recognizing and naming the stress makes it easier