Links for February 21st

  • New York Times: As Republicans See a Mandate on Budget Cuts, Others See Risk
    "Public surveys suggest that most voters do not share the Republicans’ fervor for the deep cuts adopted by the House, or for drastically slashing the power of public-sector unions." I imagine that the electoral see-saw is going to continue in 2012, with Democrats gaining power again.
  • Pioneer Press: At St. Paul ‘wet house,’ liquor can be their life—and death
    Minnesota has created four residential facilities for homeless alcoholics who refuse to sober up. Although I oppose this on idealistic grounds, I admire the fiscal sense of this approach. It costs just $18,000/person, and consequently costs far, far less than dealing with a homeless alcoholic and the crimes that they're likely to commit.
  • Vimeo: A Sequence of Lines Traced by Five Hundred Individuals
    Clement Valla used Amazon's Mechanical Turk to get 500 people (paid 2¢ apiece) to trace a line drawn by the person prior to them. The result is a brilliant illustration of evolution. Each generation introduces slight (and sometimes not-so-slight) changes that ultimate lead to a drawing that bears no resemblance to the straight line that started the whole thing.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

5 replies on “Links for February 21st”

  1. With so many state budgets in the red, there are two basic choices: cut spending or raise taxes. Before I’ll believe that “the public” doesn’t support current GOP initiatives, I’d like to see a poll based on one simple question… “As your state leaders try to balance their budget, do you want them to cut spending or raise taxes?”

    Go ahead — tell me that a Democratic agenda of raising taxes would win in that poll. I dare ya.

  2. Wow. I just read that article about the “wet houses.” Count me among those who believe “bottomless optimism is naive.” Some people cannot be “saved”–they do not want to be saved and they never will want to be saved. It sounds to me like the people (mostly men?) who end up in this house are pretty well self-selected to be the ones who wouldn’t benefit from intervention. I resist the kind of pig-headed idealism (I don’t mean you, Waldo) that would insist that every ounce of energy and public money has to spent on shaking a finger in front of their noses and telling them it’s not too late to shape up and join the ranks of gainfully-employed-clean-living-middle-class-values majority. A “tacit acceptance of their drinking?” Of course it is. Honestly, in addition to the good fiscal sense of it, I found it kind of heartwarming.

  3. One thing that I didn’t make clear in my brief remarks on the wet houses is that my opposition to them on idealistic grounds is utterly opposed to my support of them on common-sense grounds, leaving me not opposed to them, but simply conflicted. These wet houses were established with the sort of clever thinking that I really admire, especially in government.

  4. The wet houses kind of reminded me of another article (that I think you linked to somewhere) about the nursing homes that have begun giving baby dolls to patients with Alzheimer’s, or rather giving the old folks whatever seemingly silly, “unhealthy” thing they want, like chocolate at all hours of the day or night, etc. The idea being instead of trying to be all didactic (this is good for you, this is bad for you), just meet people where they are and stop being judgmental about their decisions. Of course I would only support this approach when it involves people like late-stage, confirmed alcoholics or late-stage Alzheimer’s patients. My kids aren’t going to get chocolate at all hours of the day and night, that’s for dang sure.

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