Monthly Archives: June 2020

Just 1.5% of all rape cases lead to charge or summons, data reveals | Law | The Guardian

Figures show significant fall in prosecutions in England and Wales and victims waiting longer for justice
— Read on

Tech might help here. I can imagine an app, running on your watch, that in response to a keyword starts an audio or video recording. This might bring the same phenomenon of radical transparency to this crime that we see having such results in the use of cellphone video for violent crimes in general.

Unfortunately, the main candidate for an app like this, the Apple Watch, doesn’t have a mic or a camera; it’s focused on touch and sight as primary interfaces.

Jad Abumrad: How Dolly Parton led me to an epiphany | TED Talk

Radiolab is, and has been for a while, a most interesting and challenging program.  I don’t listen to it regularly, but I’m usually sucked into it when I do.  Jad and his co-host, Robert Krollwich (sadly, he’s now retired from the show) created a new way of doing talk radio.

So, he does this TED talk, and it’s about how he sees what he’s done and what he needs to do.  And, typically, he’s rethought how to do TED talks from a guy wandering around on stage with slides to a video podcast that’s really absorbing and good at explaining what he’s saying while he says it.  And the point, which is a riff on the old Marxist thesis/antithesis/synthesis, is revealed as relevant to now, in a performance of exactly the point he’s making.

Worth a watch.  If you haven’t listened to Radiolab, try it out

Close to Home

For a few years, we on Whidbey Island have been looking at what’s going on in the rest of the country, wringing our hands and feeling reassured that we live in a place surrounded by rational, well-meaning neighbors. But it’s getting harder to feel that way. Reading Nicholas Kristof in the NYT I am informed of seaside towns of 4,000 people in Oregon with military vehicles in their police fleet, encouraging armed civilians to come help them protect against invaders. Then, something closer to home:

This happened in Forks, WA. OK, they’re all a little nutty over there, that’s where the vampire TV show was shot. But the article makes reference to a gun-store owner protecting his shop with local militia – in Sequim, a quiet tourist town on the Olympic Peninsula that we visit often.

Then there’s this:

Police brutality in Tacoma.

Then, five miles up the road: a few years back, a gun shop opened with little or no comment from the locals. As I walked by the other day, I saw a notice on the door saying they were closed due to the benighted policies of our state governor.

And the giant pickup truck that barrelled by me on Holst Road the other day, flying both a giant “Trump 2020” flag and another I didn’t catch, which caused me to laugh coffee out through my nose at the cliché.

It’s starting to feel like wringing my hands isn’t really the appropriate response.

Update: browsing the comments on the NYT article, many have referenced the Norman Jewison film “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” and speculated on a remake. Mel Brooks or Michael Mann production?

2012 Is Bullshit; 2020 Is When We’ll Really Be in Trouble – VICE

Source: 2012 Is Bullshit; 2020 Is When We’ll Really Be in Trouble – VICE

Oh oh.  This guy studies the underlying structural factors that lead to instability in societies.  The article was published in 2012.

I went and looked further into his publications, starting with his blog.  He’s moonlighting from his UConn job to do work at something called the Complexity Science Hub in Austria.  Particularly interesting are the slides accompanying a talk at a similar institution in Utrecht, which show the underlying analysis that informs his theory:

  • wage stagnation (proxied by increasing societal inequality)
  • more and more “elites”, competing for a fixed set of power resources

and the possible outcomes:

  • violence
  • collapse of the state
  • many people dropping out of the “elite” classes

Going to go find a copy of his book and dig a little deeper.

Kurzarbeit and Workshare

As we have been repeatedly reminded, Germany and Austria amongst others have a scheme to supplement employee income during the pandemic without requiring that everyone be laid off, apply for unemployment and receive a supplemented payment when approved.  For example, see How Germany Saved Its Workforce From Unemployment While Spending Less Per Person Than the U.S. — ProPublica

What I didn’t know is that many states in the US have a similar program.  In fact, WA has a workshare program called SharedWork (!) that is almost identical.  Furthermore, the CARES Act passed by the Federal government that set up the idiotic unemployment compensation scheme for the duration of the pandemic also completely funds any state-governed workshare scheme, so WA would be off the hook for financing the increased demand for the program.

The ProPublica article referenced above does a good job comparing the Kurzarbeit and unemployment approach.  What I don’t understand is: why didn’t WA advertise the SharedWork program to all WA businesses, instead of retrofitting its barely-functioning unemployment system?  Why am I just finding out about this now?