Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for February 21st, 2017

Gives one pause for thought: Teen suicide attempts fell as same-sex marriage became legal

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Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press reports:

Teen suicide attempts in the U.S. declined after same-sex marriage became legal and the biggest impact was among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids, a study found.

The research found declines in states that passed laws allowing gays to marry before the Supreme Court made it legal nationwide. The results don’t prove there’s a connection, but researchers said policymakers should be aware of the measures’ potential benefits for youth mental health.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for all U.S. teens. Suicidal behavior is much more common among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids and adults; about 29 percent of these teens in the study reported attempting suicide, compared with just 6 percent of straight teens.

Laws that have the greatest impact on gay adults may make gay kids feel “more hopeful for the future,” said lead author Julia Raifman, a researcher at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The measures also could create more tolerance and less bullying, making these teens feel less stigmatized. Those effects could also benefit straight teens but more research is needed to determine how the laws might influence teen behavior, Raifman said.

The study was published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics .

The researchers analyzed data on more than 700,000 public high school students who participated in government surveys on risky youth behavior from 1999 through 2015, the year the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 February 2017 at 5:36 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber

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Susan J. Fowler has a very interesting post in her blog. It begins:

As most of you know, I left Uber in December and joined Stripe in January. I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the past couple of months about why I left and what my time at Uber was like. It’s a strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story that deserves to be told while it is still fresh in my mind, so here we go.

I joined Uber as a site reliability engineer (SRE) back in November 2015, and it was a great time to join as an engineer. They were still wrangling microservices out of their monolithic API, and things were just chaotic enough that there was exciting reliability work to be done. The SRE team was still pretty new when I joined, and I had the rare opportunity to choose whichever team was working on something that I wanted to be part of.

After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird. On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

Uber was a pretty good-sized company at that time, and I had pretty standard expectations of how they would handle situations like this. I expected that I would report him to HR, they would handle the situation appropriately, and then life would go on – unfortunately, things played out quite a bit differently. When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to. Upper management told me that he “was a high performer” (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.

I was then told that I had to make a choice: (i) I could either go and find another team and then never have to interact with this man again, or (ii) I could stay on the team, but I would have to understand that he would most likely give me a poor performance review when review time came around, and there was nothing they could do about that. I remarked that this didn’t seem like much of a choice, and that I wanted to stay on the team because I had significant expertise in the exact project that the team was struggling to complete (it was genuinely in the company’s best interest to have me on that team), but they told me the same thing again and again. One HR rep even explicitly told me that it wouldn’t be retaliation if I received a negative review later because I had been “given an option”. I tried to escalate the situation but got nowhere with either HR or with my own management chain (who continued to insist that they had given him a stern-talking to and didn’t want to ruin his career over his “first offense”).

So I left that team, and took quite a few weeks learning about other teams before landing anywhere (I desperately wanted to not have to interact with HR ever again). I ended up joining a brand-new SRE team that gave me a lot of autonomy, and I found ways to be happy and do amazing work. In fact, the work I did on this team turned into the production-readiness process which I wrote about in my bestselling (!!!) book Production-Ready Microservices. 

Over the next few months, I began to meet more women engineers in the company. As I got to know them, and heard their stories, I was surprised that some of them had stories similar to my own. Some of the women even had stories about reporting the exact same manager I had reported, and had reported inappropriate interactions with him long before I had even joined the company. It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being “his first offense”, and it certainly wasn’t his last. Within a few months, he was reported once again for inappropriate behavior, and those who reported him were told it was still his “first offense”. The situation was escalated as far up the chain as it could be escalated, and still nothing was done.

Myself and a few of the women who had reported him in the past decided to all schedule meetings with HR to insist that something be done. In my meeting, the rep I spoke with told me that he had never been reported before, he had only ever committed one offense (in his chats with me), and that none of the other women who they met with had anything bad to say about him, so no further action could or would be taken. It was such a blatant lie that there was really nothing I could do. There was nothing any of us could do. We all gave up on Uber HR and our managers after that. Eventually he “left” the company. I don’t know what he did that finally convinced them to fire him.

In the background, there was a game-of-thrones political war raging within the ranks of upper management in the infrastructure engineering organization. It seemed like . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 February 2017 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law

Here’s what’s driving lawmakers working to legalize recreational pot in 17 more states

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Kurtis Lee reports in the LA Times:

When Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in November to legalize recreational marijuana, Josh Miller saw this as a sign that his time had finally arrived.

The Rhode Island state senator has a reputation among colleagues as a cannabis crusader — a battle that, so far, he’s lost. For the last three years, Miller introduced legislation to legalize recreational pot, and for the last three years, his efforts have died in committee hearing rooms.

But now, in a turnaround, some of Miller’s colleagues are signaling an interest in legalized weed — and raking in the tax dollars that come with it.

“We now have the wind at our backs,” said Miller, who introduced his latest pro-pot bill last week. “Seeing our next door neighbor legalize it should help us — a lot.”

In the fall, three other states joined Massachusetts in passing recreational pot ballot measures: California, Maine and Nevada. Four other states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — have legalized marijuana through ballot initiatives as well.

But this year lawmakers in 17 states — Connecticut, Minnesota and Hawaii among them — have become emboldened enough to introduce more than two dozen measures to legalize recreational pot for adults and tax its sale. The experiences of Colorado and Washington state — the first two states to legalize the drug still considered illegal under federal law — drive the trend.

This month, Colorado officials released a report showing the state brought in $200 million in tax revenue last year. Washington raked in even more — about $256 million. Most of the money goes toward public school systems.

“Our focus is on revenue and bringing in cash to the state as legalization becomes more and more widespread,” said Mary Washington, a state delegate from Maryland who introduced a bill recently that would tax marijuana like alcohol. She estimates the state could net $165 million a year.  (California estimates that legalized recreational marijuana will bring in about $1 billion a year in state tax revenue.)

Washington, whose district is in Baltimore, has not sponsored pot legislation in the past, but has been a supporter of legalization. She’s viewed the issue from a criminal justice perspective after witnessing young black men in her community continuously arrested for low-level possession.

Now, with individuals able to carry up to an ounce of marijuana legally in some states, along with the cash generated from sales, she felt that it’s time to join the broader legalization movement. The success of Maryland lawmakers in passing medicinal marijuana legislation in 2014 also makes her optimistic.

“These conversations need to be happening now, in state legislatures,” Washington said, adding that even with voter- approved ballot measures, lawmakers are often tasked with hashing out laws that regulate sales. “Why not get it done now? We’re elected to do a job. More and more states are moving in this direction.”

The legalization of medical marijuana took a similar path.

Six states passed ballot measures approving medicinal pot from the mid-1990s until 2000. It wasn’t until that year when Hawaii became the first to do so through the Legislature. Since 2004, nearly twice as many states have adopted medical laws through legislatures — 13 — compared to seven passed through ballot initiatives.

Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, a group dedicated to ending cannabis prohibition nationwide, said voters led the way on legalizing cannabis for medicinal use before lawmakers woke up.

“Voters saw through the government’s reefer madness and led the way on medical marijuana. Those laws inspired citizens in other states to demand action from their elected officials, who could now see that such laws were not just popular, but possible,” Tvert said. “The same thing is now happening with broader legalization.”

For wary lawmakers, polling is helpful as public approval of legal marijuana is increasing, similar to the country’s quick shift in favor of same-sex marriage over the years.

A Pew Research Center survey from October showed that 57% of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized, compared to 37% who believe it should remain illegal. By contrast, a similar Pew poll in 2006 showed almost the opposite — 60% believed it should be illegal, compared with 32% who supported legalization. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 February 2017 at 3:11 pm

As the immigrant population of California has increased, the incidence of crime has dropped

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President Trump doesn’t care much for facts, but they are real, and his idea that immigration causes crime is contrary to facts and—since the facts are readily available—also stupid (unless he is using immigrants as an “enemy” (as he uses Muslims) to frighten those who are ignorant of the facts so that they will regard him as a savior).

Here’s a chart Kevin Drum made, and here’s his explanation:

blog_crime_california_usa

I think it’s a danger to the nation that the president operates on false information and, in the case of his economic forecast, deliberately creates false information. The US is headed in a very bad direction: once reality is ignored, as the GOP has long ignored it (cf. climate change), things are off track.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 February 2017 at 12:26 pm

Good example of bad cops in Georgia: Innocent couple jailed for buying a car

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And note that the detective gets away scot-free. It seems quite difficult to hold police accountable for misdeeds.

And note this from Radley Balko’s morning links:

Police union gets judge to block the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department from giving prosecutors the names of 300 deputies who have records of  “domestic violence, theft, bribery and brutality.” The sheriff says such a history could be relevant to an officer’s reliability on the witness stand. The police union argues — apparently with a straight face — that the officers’ records are private.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 February 2017 at 10:41 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Is the violence across North Africa and the Middle East caused by leaded gasoline?

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As Kevin Drum has noted in various posts and articles, there is strong and (to me) compelling evidence that children raised in a lead-polluted environment grow up to be violent adults, and the most pervasive form of lead pollution has been leaded gasoline. The US discontinued leaded gasoline around 1980 (there was a phase-in period when both leaded and unleaded gasoline were sold), and 20 years later, violent crime began a remarkable decline. This phenomenon—discontinuing leaded gasoline followed 20 years later by a significant decline in violent crime—has now been seen in any countries.

This chronology of leaded gasoline history (PDF) is quite interesting as it marks significant dates from the introduction of leaded gasoline in 1923. The PDF notes that Tetra-ethyl lead (TEL or “ethyl”) was the invention of Thomas Midgley, who was posthumously declared to be “responsible for more damage to Earth’s atmosphere than any other single organism that has ever lived.” (Walker 2007) Some of that is because Midgley was also responsible for the adoption of fluorocarbons as propellants for aerosol cans, and fluorocarbons turned out to be vastly destructive of the ozone layer, so those too were phased out.

In a post this morning (mainly on the new Trump aide Sebastian Gorka) has this interesting chart:

blog_middle_east_leaded_gasoline_phaseout_0

Drum’s post is worth reading for the information on Gorka.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 February 2017 at 10:32 am

How Trump spent his first month in office, by the numbers

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In the Washington Post Philip Bump takes a look at how President Trump budgets his time:

From the moment Donald Trump was sworn in as president on the steps of the Capitol until noon Monday, precisely one month had passed. A total of 744 hours.

Here’s how he spent each one.

imrs

The president spent a little under three-quarters of his time in and around Washington during his first month in office. A little less than half of that was time during which he was officially working — as measured by the time between when the media was told to show up in the morning (known as “call time”) until the media was dismissed in the evening (known as “the lid”). This is an imprecise measure of when a president is working, of course; he might take meetings after hours or review documents that are pertinent to his job. That difference is impossible to measure, though, so, in our calculus it blends together with obvious downtime, like when the president is asleep. Or when he’s watching TV, which is also impossible to measure. . .

About a quarter of Trump’s time since he took office has been spent in Florida — mostly at his Mar-a-Lago resort but also on the golf course.

Trump’s team is keenly aware that the president spending a lot of time on the golf course is a bit questionable. That’s not because presidents don’t deserve downtime, mind you — it’s just that Trump was an outspoken critic of Barack Obama’s time on the golf course. “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” he said last August.

But he’s found time. Trump’s hit the links at least six times since he took office. On at least five of those occasions, he played a full 18 holes.

On Sunday, the administration claimed that he’d only played “a few holes” both days this weekend. That was revealed as untrue thanks to a blog post indicating that Trump was joined by professional golfer Rory McIlroy for 18 holes two days ago. (The administration’s response to the truth coming out? “He intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer.” The White House spokesman then added, “He also had a full day of meetings.”) . . .

Continue reading.

As Kevin Drum pointed out,  the White House press office now has a strong track record of lying about just about everything. We might save some money and shut down the office since we cannot depend on it.

 

 

Written by LeisureGuy

21 February 2017 at 10:14 am

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