Project LinX 10/06/2018 — Gas Mask

This is Project LinX: Periodic link curation, the narratives, investigative reporting, arguments, and dot-connecting we need for refining and weaponizing our own sense-making networks.

Today’s theme: Get gassed.

>”Nearly 70% of Americans consider themselves middle-class—here’s how many actually are” | CNBC
“The definition of “middle class” can vary wildly depending on who you ask. For some, it’s defined by certain attributes: If you’re hardworking, thrifty and humble, for example, you’re middle-class. For others, it means earning a substantial salary but not so much that you’d be considered rich.

That’s according to new data from Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, which found that 68 percent of Americans consider themselves middle-class, down 2 percent from last year. However, because of the fuzziness of the definition, far more Americans consider themselves middle-class than technically qualify based on income.”

A lot more people think they’re middle-class than actually are. This is because “middle-class” is as much an ideology as it is a salary range. By “ideology” I mean a “way of thinking” that justifies how one thinks and acts. It’s interesting that neither “lower-class” nor “upper-class” are ideologies. Neither has need for it. Both understand the true nature of class warfare. It’s crucial that the middle class remains oblivious.

>”Michael Lewis: The Big Short author on how Trump is gambling with nuclear disaster” | The Guardian

“Bureaucrats in the Obama administration had worked for a year to prepare thousands of pages of briefings on the risks their successors could face. Yet by Thanksgiving, no one from the Trump team had arrived to receive them. “I was fucking nervous … ,” Steve Bannon later told friends about Trump’s handling of the transition, Lewis reports in the book. “I go, ‘Holy fuck, this guy doesn’t know anything. And he doesn’t give a shit.’”

As Trump came to power, the department that manages one of civilisation’s prime existential risks was effectively functioning without leadership. So was the department that keeps millions of Americans from going hungry. And the one tracking the next superstorm. So Lewis decided to find out what was in the Obama briefings himself.”

Geez, if Steve Bannon was “fucking nervous”…

>”How ProPublica Became Big Tech’s Scariest Watchdog” |Fast Company
“One emerging way to hold tech companies like Facebook accountable is to use similar technology to figuratively poke at that black box, gathering data and testing hypotheses about what might be going on inside, almost like early astronomers studying the solar system.

It’s a tactic being pioneered at the nonprofit news organization ProPublica by a team of reporters, programmers, and researchers led by award-winning reporter Julia Angwin. Angwin’s team specializes in investigating algorithms that impact people’s lives, from the Facebook News Feed to Amazon’s pricing models to the software determining people’s car insurance payments and even who goes to prison and for how long. To investigate these algorithms, they’ve had to develop a new approach to investigative reporting that uses technology like machine learning and chatbots.”

Pro Publica is now my favorite source for real investigative journalism. You should consider making it yours, too.

>”Trump Is Coming for Green Card Holders” | Bloomberg
“In order to get a green card or many types of visas, immigrants now have to show that they are “not likely to become a public charge,” according to a law that has been on the books since 1882. Since 1999, a public charge has been defined as someone who is primarily dependent on cash assistance, such as the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. Of course, the government doesn’t know who will eventually need welfare, so it uses a variety of indicators to make a decision about each prospective immigrant. In recent years, only about 3 percent of applicants have been turned away under this rule.

The new Trump policy would change that dramatically. It would expand the definition of “public charge” to include anyone who receives even a small amount of Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or low-income subsidies for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D. All that would be necessary in order to be denied under the new policy would be for immigration officials to decide — based on a complex formula stipulated in the 447-page proposal — that a prospective immigrant would be likely to ever use one of these benefits. Household income, assets and other financial resources would also be taken into account.”

The rule change proposed by the Trump administration, if approved and upheld by the courts, could go into effect without an act of Congress. The concept at its heart, “likely public charge,” harkens back to the Immigration Act of 1882 and was designed to keep poor people (particularly the Chinese) from coming to America.

>”‘It Will Come Out:’ Trump Accuses Beijing of Meddling in U.S. Elections Without Giving Proof” | Fortune
“During a UN Security Council meeting convened to discuss the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, President Donald Trump instead hurled bombs at the Chinese government. “We found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration,” Trump told the council, where representatives from China were seated.

“They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade,” Trump said. This week, his administration implemented a fresh round of tariffs against Chinese goods, bringing the total value of sanctioned imports up to $250 billion.”

There’s more than ample evidence that Russia meddled with the 2016 Presidential election and is already meddling with the November 2018 mid-term elections. Thus it’s ridiculously curious that President Trump and Vice President Pence are making charges that China is also messing with American elections because Being doesn’t want Trump in The White House? Of course, neither presents any evidence to back up such a claims, which of course means that this is either a distraction or an excuse, or both. The excuse option—Trump blaming the Chinese should Democrats win the House and/or the Senate—will be repeated infinitely should the GOP lose both houses.

>”Boys Don’t Read Enough” | The Atlantic
“In two of the largest studies ever conducted into the reading habits of children in the United Kingdom, Keith Topping—a professor of educational and social research at Scotland’s University of Dundee—found that boys dedicate less time than girls to processing words, that they’re more prone to skipping passages or entire sections, and that they frequently choose books that are beneath their reading levels.

“Girls tend to do almost everything more thoroughly than boys,” Topping told me over email, while conversely boys are “more careless about some, if not most, school subjects.” And notably, as countless studies have shown, girls are also more likely to read for pleasure.

But it’s not just a phenomenon in the U.K.: These trends in girls’ dominance in reading can be found pretty much anywhere in the developed world.”

There’s a sense in which the future belongs to girls. Societies will rely more and more on mental rather than physical labor. Reading early in life will most probably better prepare girls for that world than boys.

>”Trump Supporter Tells Daughters Groping ‘Is No Big Deal’ Live On MSNBC” | Yahoo
“As Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh deals with a growing number of sexual misconduct allegations, some parents are using the situation to teach valuable life lessons.

Hopefully, not too many want to impart the lesson being taught by a mother in Bozeman, Montana: Groping is no big deal.

The unidentified woman made a point of telling her two teen daughters this during a live interview Tuesday on MSNBC.

“Groping a woman? At 18?” she said, before asking her daughters, “I mean, how many guys do you know who think that’s no big deal?”

After the two girls nodded in agreement, the mother reiterated, “It’s not a big deal.””

I keep trying to think of some kind of comment for this. I can’t.  


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IMAGE SOURCE: gas-mask-469217_1920 (CC0 Creative Commons)

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