Gross inequalities in a time of pandemic

Here is a stunning juxtaposition in the April 2 print edition of the New York Times. Take a close look. The top panel updates readers on the fact that the city and the region are enduring unimaginable suffering and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 63,300 victims and 2,624 deaths (as of April 4) — …

Cyber threats

David Sanger's very interesting recent book, The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age, is a timely read this month, following the indictments of twelve Russian intelligence officers for hacking the DNC in 2015. Sanger is a national security writer for the New York Times, and has covered cyber security issues for …

Social science and policy

One of the important reasons that we value scientific knowledge is the possibility that it will allow us to intervene in the world to solve problems that we care about. Good climate science allows us to have high confidence in the causes of global climate change; and it also provides a sound basis for policy …

LBJ’s commitment to cities

In the United States we have been in the desert for decades when it comes to big, transformative policy reforms aimed at addressing our most serious social issues. But the 1960s marked a decade of vigorous national effort to address some of our most serious and difficult social problems -- racial discrimination, war, poverty, education, …

Beyond stagnation

source: Lane Kenworthy, Consider the Evidence blog (link) Thirty years ago Sam Bowles, David Gordon and Tom Weisskopf published a book with a provocative title, Beyond the Waste Land: A Democratic Alternative to Economic Decline (1983). (Barry Bluestone and Bennett Harrison's Deindustrialization of America: Plant Closings, Community Abandonment and the Dismantling of Basic Industry (1984) …

Friedman on racial discrimination

It is interesting to re-read Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom some fifty years after its original publication. There are many aspects of the book that are likely to catch a contemporary reader's attention, but mine was drawn to Friedman's analysis of racial discrimination. In general, Friedman believes that capitalism is fundamentally good for promoting categorical equality. It …

Graphing metadata

One element of the NSA revelations of the past month is the apparent fact that the NSA's PRISM program enables the agency to collect wholesale the transactions that occur on the Internet, including email header information. This follows the revelation that all metadata for phone calls made on the Verizon network (and presumably others) have …

Total information awareness?

I'm finding myself increasingly distressed at this week's revelations about government surveillance of citizens' communications and Internet activity. First was the revelation in the Guardian of a wholesale FISA court order to Verizon to provide all customer "meta-data" for a three-month period -- and the clarification that this order is simply a renewal of orders that …

What became of Detroit?

      As Detroit approaches a new turn in its difficult journey over the past several decades, the imposition of an Emergency Financial Manager by the governor of Michigan (link), many people are asking a difficult question: how did we get to this point? The features that need explanation all fall within a general …

Remembering the civil rights struggle

We celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on January 21. Here is a curated set of film clips that serve to recall the major challenges of inequality, segregation, and violence that faced the African American community in the Jim Crow racial system of the 1940s and 1950s.  These videos capture some of …

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