" /> Coruscation: January 2017 Archives

« December 2016 | Main | February 2017 »

January 31, 2017

New York City Has Been Zoned to Segregate

New York City Has Been Zoned to Segregate
A new book argues that poor communities of color are hurt by the city's zoning and housing policies.

Today, historical color lines are being redrawn through a concentration of wealth and the displacement of communities of color. In New York, that phenomenon may be spurred in part by the city's well-intentioned land-use policies. Various types of rezoning--upzoning and mixed-use zoning, for example--have inadvertently but disproportionately harmed poor neighborhoods. That's the central argument of Zoned Out!, a new book edited by Tom Angotti, an urban planning professor at the City University of New York, and housing advocate Sylvia Morse.

we talk about in the book is the watering down of the word "affordable." Affordable housing used to imply that it was housing for people who had less money, who needed help affording housing. Now, it basically means anything that meets the federal guidelines for rent not costing more than 30 percent of household income, and really there's a lot of room to obscure which groups you're serving through affordable housing. I think that's a very New York City-specific context. Of course, we still have the old school, low-density NIMBYism, which we talk about [in the book].

Angotti: [History] demonstrates that the city's housing and development and zoning policies have produced a segregated city. They have had racial consequences, even as the city proclaims that they are race-neutral and color-blind. That was an important part of the argument: That this [phenomenon] is not simply a function of the current mayor or even the last three or four mayors. This has very deep historical roots. What we do is demonstrate how the current mayor and the previous mayor have very carefully followed tradition.

Morse: I think urban renewal is one where there are a lot of parallels with the mega-development projects these days. I think [of] the specific history of the use of the Housing Act of 1949 to target communities of color and use [the word] "slum" as a proxy for race.

We see a lot of that happening now, where if people are living in poverty, and if those people are people of color, their neighborhoods are immediately labeled as needing a certain kind of investment. Rather than that investment in social programs, that investment comes in the form of subsidies for developers that are going to make a ton of private profit. I think there's a direct line between that history of urban renewal projects like Lincoln Center to what we're seeing today.

January 30, 2017

Propublica: breaking the black box what Facebook knows about you

Propublica's breaking the black box what Facebook knows about you.

January 29, 2017

Minimum SAT score for college admission: varies by race ?

A 2009 Princeton study showed Asian-Americans had to score 140 points higher on their SATs than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics and 450 points higher than blacks to have the same chance of admission to leading universities.

A lawsuit filed in 2014 accused Harvard of having a cap on the number of Asian students -- the percentage of Asians in Harvard's student body had remained about 16 percent to 19 percent for two decades even though the Asian-American percentage of the population had more than doubled. In 2016, the Asian American Coalition for Education filed a complaint with the Department of Education against Yale, where the Asian percentage had remained 13 percent to 16 percent for 20 years, as well as Brown and Dartmouth, urging investigation of their admissions practices for similar reasons.

To explain that disparity some might cite the myth that while Asian students have high test scores, they lack the well-rounded extracurricular interests and activities that colleges prize. But the study isolated race as a factor by controlling for variables like academic performance, legacy status, social class, type of high school (public or private) and participation in athletics. So that 140-point gap is between a white student and an Asian student who differ by little more than race.

Still, I've always supported affirmative action, though I'd much prefer that it was based on socio-economic disadvantage rather than race alone. All students benefit from having a racially diverse class. I would not have preferred to go to a Yale that was predominantly Asian. Colleges should grant an advantage to blacks and Hispanics because they continue to face barriers to equal access and opportunity.

Correction: January 31, 2017
An earlier version of this essay misstated the parameters of a study that found that an Asian student needed to score 140 points higher on the SAT test to have the same chance at college admission as a similar white student. The study did not control for participation in extracurricular activities other than athletics.

Andrew Lam, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine, and the author of "Saving Sight" and "Two Sons of China."

January 27, 2017

Pussifictation of hats, Reminiscence


Are you on the side that don't like life
Are you on the side of racial strife
Are you on the side that beats your wife
Which side are you on?

Are you on the side who loves to hunt?
Are you on the side of the National Front?
Are you on the side who calls me cunt?
Which side are you on?

-- Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, is the author of the forthcoming "Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest."

Social media era:

It's easier now to remember what the march left wanting than the awe of the crowd, the buzz of potential, the pleasure of reading the signs, in person and online, which were funnier than I anticipated:


In another part of the crowd, Coco, 11, sees a sign she doesn't understand:
Her sister Eloise, 14, explains it to her.

He Will Nut Inside Us, he will not divide us.

Eloise sees a sign she disagrees with:

It was like seeing part of the internet in the flesh. Here were all the avatars, bearing messages they had optimized for the meme: short, clever copy (Twitter), elaborate displays of craftsmanship yearning to be photographed (Instagram).

January 26, 2017

Cambridge Analytica's psychographic profiling for behavioral microtargeting for election processes

Understand personality, not just demographics. OCEAN model: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.

In a 10 minute presentation at the 2016 Concordia Summit, Mr. Alexander Nix discusses the power of big data in global elections. Cambridge Analytica's revolutionary approach to audience targeting, data modeling, and psychographic profiling has made them a leader in behavioral micro-targeting for election processes around the world.

Cambridge's voter data innovations are built from a traditional five-factor model for gauging personality traits. The company uses ongoing nationwide survey data to evaluate voters in specific regions according to the OCEAN or CANOE factors of openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The ultimate political application of the modeling system is to craft specific ad messages tailored to voter segments based on how they fall on the five-factor spectrum.

The number-crunching and analytics for Mr. Trump felt more like a "data experiment," said Matthew Oczkowski, head of product at Cambridge Analytica, who led the team for nearly six months.

"I think they're not Americans, and they have a little bit of trouble understanding the American political systems and how things work," said one of eight GOP political consultants interviewed for this story under condition of anonymity. The consultant believes Cambridge's voter-data modeling is sophisticated and effective, but also complained that the firm is more focused on its sales and marketing efforts than actually fulfilling core analytics work promised to clients.

"Everyone universally agrees that their sales operation is better than their fulfillment product," said another consultant who has worked with the company. "The product comes late or it's not quite what you envisioned."

"What's the old saying?" asked another source, conjuring up a metaphor to describe Cambridge Analytica. "All hat, no cattle?"

The company is helmed by Alexander Nix, a former financial analyst-turned psychological consultant on international elections and government initiatives. Mr. Nix was crowned one of "25 geniuses" who are creating the future of business" by Wired Magazine in April, which certainly could be evidence of Cambridge's PR machine, which helped generate lots of media hype as the primaries kicked into gear.

Mercer Money Pressure:

Cambridge Analytica has funding from a particularly influential hedge fund analyst and enigmatic conservative political donor, Robert Mercer, who is widely reported to be a key investor in the firm, though the company will not discuss its investors. It's easy to draw the connection to Senator Cruz -- the primary horse backed by Mr. Mercer, who donated millions to Cruz super PAC Keep the Promise. The hawkish Bolton SuperPAC has also been the recipient of Mercer cash. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the PAC got $2 million in 2015 from the Mercers.

January 24, 2017

Soo Kyung Bae's thigh gap

Definition: "thigh gap" is ideal, a desired defined gap between the upper thighs when standing with your feet together.

National University of Singapore design student Soo Kyung Bae Thigh Gap Jewellery probes and mocks this trend.thigh-gap-jewellery-soo-kyung-bae_dezeen_936_1.jpg

January 23, 2017

Seatpost suspension: suspend the person, not the vehicle

Ride Body Float and Cane Creek Thudbuster.

Cane Creek review.

January 22, 2017

Explanations of Donald Trump know few bounds

The Baffler (Sam Kriss) steps up to the plate and explains,

Donald Trump is, to put it crudely, a soppy old bitch. Everything he dislikes is "nasty," every time he doesn't get what he wants it's because of people who "aren't very nice." These are the politics of civility and decorum, petit-bourgeois manners refracted through his own particular neurosis.

In his mannerisms, his gesticulating hands, his New York whine, Trump looks nothing like the conquering strongman of alt-right fantasy and liberal fears. He's turned himself into a living caricature of a garrulous Jew, the mother from a Philip Roth novel. (His own mother, Mary Trump, ran away from the prim and chilly Scottish islands to marry a rich American; she wore, in her later years, an enormous curl of golden hair that looks exactly like Donald Trump's own.)

This is--to be clear--not an attempt at kink-shaming of the sort that so many inversely uptight worthies were so quick to condemn after the story leaked. Don't laugh at the powerful fascist's embarrassing piss story; playing around with piss is perfectly fine, and must on no account ever be laughed at. And it is fine--although it's not really clear that what Trump (allegedly) did even qualifies as a kink. It's also perfectly fine to not conform to the bizarre standards of normative masculinity, to be fussy, to have been a bratty kid, to have had an awful mother. But all this must mean something. "Character-traits," Sandor Ferenczi wrote, "are, so to speak, secret psychoses." Shouldn't we want to know what secret psychoses are ventriloquizing the most powerful man in the world?

Donald Trump can't piss on the fire, and he can't set it either. All he can do is watch. Freud traces fetishism back to castration-complex and the fantasy of the maternal penis: the infant boy sees his mother naked, and sees what she lacks; unable to process sexual difference, he becomes terrified that he might be castrated too. The only way to feel better is to interpose some other object in the place of mama's missing dick. The women's streams of piss are prosthetic phalluses, the missing things that make the world whole. Donald Trump covers his buildings with pictures of piss, he watches impotent as a few hired Russian women piss on each other, piss on his enemy's bed, fill the room, the whole world, with piss and potency. And whatever happens next, however many people he kills or enslaves, that moment is the closest Donald Trump will ever come to the power he's always wanted.

January 19, 2017

Hacking the news is social engineering: Clint Watts

The media is getting played, too

"The American press has focused a disproportionate amount of attention on Russian hacking and cyberattacks, and the reporting itself has only muddied the truth for most in the audience:

-- says Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent and Executive Officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, in an interview with CJR. Watts is now a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, where he analyzes social bots, trolls, and websites that intelligence agencies say are the foot soldiers of Russia's information war.

"The hacking generates information, which promotes Russia's influence campaign, but the end objective is to convince people to choose a candidate based on Russia's preference. This is getting confused, because people hear 'hack' and they think their votes are being changed."

It's a classic page from the Cold War playbook, says Watts, adding that Putin has brought new meaning to the Soviet-Era doctrine of using "the force of politics" rather than "the politics of force."

"The main success of this campaign is not that it took place, but the panic we are in now," Meister adds. "We've lost our self-confidence in our system, in our democracy, in our elections and in our media. That's the biggest success of the Russian campaign."

According to Watts, more coverage should have been paid to Russia's information war, and its effort to influence voter opinion, than on the cyber attacks that were conducted as a means to attain some of the information that swayed voters. After all, it wasn't just information gleaned from those hacks that influenced voters, but widespread false stories that circulated across Facebook and Twitter throughout the campaign.

A simple look at the headlines that preceded and followed the election illustrates the emphasis on hacking: "U.S. Says Russia Directed Hacks to Influence Elections," says The New York Times headline on October 7, and follows on November 25, with: "U.S. Officials Defend Integrity of Vote, Despite Hacking Fears."

It's no wonder, given the headlines, that 50 percent of Clinton voters in a recent poll believe Russia "tampered with vote tallies" to help Trump. Of course misinformation is bipartisan: 62 percent of Trump voters in the same poll incorrectly believe millions of votes were cast by undocumented immigrants.

January 14, 2017

Manhattan to Montreal bike path. Thanks Cuomo !

Build 350 New Miles of Trail to Create Largest State Multi-use Trail Network in the Nation

750-Mile Trail Network Will Connect Lake Erie to the Capital Region and the New York Harbor to Canada

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proposed completing the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Erie Canalway trails by 2020 to create the Empire State Trail, the largest state multi-use trail in the nation.

To achieve this, the state will develop 350 miles of new trail in three phases to create a 750-mile pathway for hiking and biking along scenic vistas and through charming, historic communities. The Empire State Trail will span much of the state, from the New York Harbor up through the Adirondack Mountains to the Canadian border - and from the shores of Lake Erie along the historic Erie Canal to the heart of the Capital Region.

January 11, 2017

Times up rides

Times-up organized some bike rides in NYC.

January 7, 2017

The Baffler, Explanation for what, Vox ?

David Johnson explains Vox.

In its brief history, Vox has become a model in an industry that's moved from entrenchment to retrenchment. Vox's rapid growth, its dream team of policy bloggers, its cachet with the White House, its ability to attract blue-chip advertisers such as Chevrolet and Campbell's Soup, and its tech innovation have become the envy of competitors. Why? What is the secret of Vox.com and its thriving parent company Vox Media, which, according to a report this spring in Bloomberg Technology, is profitable and valued at $1 billion? Are there applicable lessons for the dwindling segments of the media industry that still care primarily about journalism? Or, is the Vox Media success story largely the product of clever--perhaps even deceptive--marketing?

Targeting an audience advertiser crave:

'who, exactly, are the promontories in this broad range? Let the enterprising Vox staff explain: "We want to find the grad student whose research will change everything, the Hill staffer who sees a better way, the entrepreneur who's figured out what's wrong with the system, the industry leader with a vision of what could be different." If these are the ingredients of a broad range of thought and a freewheeling exchange of opinions...'

The Vox creation myth begins, suitably enough, in a mood of liberal dissatisfaction. Ezra Klein conceived Vox from a trio of frustrations he had with old media institutions like the Washington Post.
First, he felt that the top newspapers made readers like him feel stupid. He found, at least as a young reader before embarking on a career in journalism, that he could easily understand only about 25 percent of a given article he would read in the New York Times. Sure, the Times would sometimes help readers out with sidebars and other explanatory supplements, but it never harnessed the potential of the web and the space afforded by digital formats to optimize the explanatory power of journalism.

Second, he believed that old media were slaves to the news--i.e., the ephemeral fodder of the cable-driven news cycle--instead of what really mattered. While traditional media is constrained by what happens in the world day to day, Klein felt he could build a better media company by detaching from the news to focus on truths that were, if not exactly timeless, then at least less time-sensitive.

Third, as a digital-only journalist, he felt hemmed in by the limits of the Washington Post's technology, which was geared, in his view, toward producing print newspaper articles for regular subscribers. This backward-looking business model limited the ability of Klein and his Wonkblog team at the Post to produce content in the hypercompetitive, feed-the-beast, constantly updating digital sphere. Whatever one's news preference, it's clear that we all live in a new era of digital journalism as news syndication or wire service, and Klein has wisely embraced this truth. Most people consume their news content at all times of day via multiple routes--Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, RSS feeds, newsletters, etc. As a result of this ever-shifting media diet, news producers can't assume that most of their readers are accessing their content directly from their own duly branded points of origin. Klein left the Post to found a company that understood itself as a wire service, in the way all digital publishers nowadays are wire services.

January 1, 2017

Fatbike = vélo à pneus surdimensionnés (VPS).

Cet article a été écrit en 2015 et l'Office de la langue française n'avait pas alors choisi le nom qui serait attribué au Fat bike de façon officielle. Nous avons reçu une communication ce mois-ci nous annonçant que le terme à employer est désormais VPS pour vélo à pneus surdimensionnés.