Book recommendation: Palaces for the people

In Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life, sociologist Eric Klinenberg discusses the role of social infrastructure in maintaining the health of a community and its people. Klinenberg argues that well-designed social infrastructure can help reduce crime, improve people’s lives, bring different people into contact with one-another, and even protect lives during natural disasters. He examines a variety of social infrastructures, including libraries, public housing courtyards, schools, barbershops, bookstores, and community gardens.

Some politics observations, 2017-02-28

Some observations: Refugees are risking frostbite to flee the U.S. for Canada. This is a very sad commentary on the lack of compassion from our current administration. I signed the Unitarian Universalist Association’s declaration of conscience, and encourage you to consider signing it as well. I agree with Congressman Ellison: To all my supporters: we may have come up short, but we need to be united. I look forward to continuing to work for the people in MN-05.

It’s been a long time

It’s been a long time (over a year) since I’ve posted on this blog, because I have (to put it mildly) been very busy with other responsibilities and passions that have taken me away from blogging. Also, I serve as a (low-level, volunteer-basis) officer in a political party, and as a result, I am sometimes reluctant to post my opinions in public, for fear that they might be taken (or portrayed) as official statements, despite my disclaimer (which, to be clear, says that everything written here is my personal opinion and does not reflect the position of my employer or any organization of which I am a member).

Some thoughts about online discourse

I hate it when people reply or comment to something you posted, in a way that makes it clear they didn't read what you wrote or posted, (1/) — Chris Phan (@functoruser) May 15, 2015 and that they were just looking for an argument. It's disrespectful and rude. Also, I'm not looking for arguments on the Internet. (2/) — Chris Phan (@functoruser) May 15, 2015 I'm looking for dialogue, discussion, and reasonable disagreement.

Not all cars

Imagine there was a serious manufacturing defect present in about six percent of cars. This defect caused a malfunction that could seriously injure the car’s passengers. Of course, consumers would demand action to eradicate this defect. Suppose auto industry representatives dismissed these concerns by protesting “Not all cars blow up because of this defect.”

This joke is awesome and deserves more than just a retweet

This joke is awesome and deserves more than just a retweet: I'd wager that right now, Eric Cantor’s sorrows are… (•_•) ( •_•)⌐■-■ (⌐■_■) uncountable. — “patrick” (@importantshock) June 11, 2014 (Georg Cantor’s diagonal argument shows that the real numbers are uncountable.)

Um, some conservatives DO dispute E=mc^2

A few times on my Facebook news feed, I’ve noticed a graphic with a photo of astrophysicist and (awesome) science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson and this quotation of him (emphasis and ellipsis in original): MathJax.Hub.Config({ tex2jax: { inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\\(','\\)']], displayMath: [['$$','$$'], ['\\[','\\]']], processEscapes: true, processEnvironments: true, skipTags: ['script', 'noscript', 'style', 'textarea', 'pre'], TeX: { equationNumbers: { autoNumber: "AMS" }, extensions: ["AMSmath.js", "AMSsymbols.js"] } } }); Climate change has taken on political dimensions… That’s odd because I don’t see people choosing sides over $E=mc^2$ or other fundamental facts of science!

Stop punching down at millennials

Um, complaining loudly in a coffee shop about how much you dislike millennials is pretty rude. — Chris Phan (@functoruser) June 6, 2014 Also, it's hilarious how your complaint boils down to "They were raised poorly." And whose fault would that be? — Chris Phan (@functoruser) June 6, 2014 At least my parents raised me to know that complaining about people loudly in coffee shops (and making gross generalizations) is rude.

Congrats, Oregon! Welcome to marriage equality!

Oregon Teacher of the Year Brett Bigham and his spouse Mike Turay just married by our own Jeana Frazzini pic.twitter.com/GPSE7S0Dmv — Basic Rights Oregon (@basicrights) May 19, 2014 1st marriage in Eugene: Bruce and Matt together for 40 years! pic.twitter.com/pIoBxHtwJ8 — Basic Rights Oregon (@basicrights) May 19, 2014 On Monday, a federal judge in Eugene struck down Oregon’s state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which was enacted by citizen initiative nearly a decade ago.

Re the Mozilla thing

Re the Mozilla thing: Given that wealthy people now have a right to unlimited political donations, why shouldn’t people take CEO politics into account in their consumer decisions? (Yes, I am aware people don’t pay money to use Firefox. But Google pays the Mozilla Corporation $300 million per year to be the default search engine in Firefox, which presumably reflects Firefox’s market share.)