Sunday Paper - Facebook, GDPR and Ireland, Racism, Brazilian Coffee, Mommy Blogging, Public Transportation and Princeton and the New York City Gateway Tunnel Project, New York City Commuter Tax

Unexceptional Racism by Drew Downs

At the root of American identity is an impossible paradox. A truth we wish could coexist so much, we would take up arms to defend it.

We want to be exceptional and equal at the same time. But we can’t. It’s impossible.

Sunday Paper is my personal collage of long-form articles, between 1,000 and 20,000 words, that I have saved during the weekend, that I found interesting and which I think require deep slow thinking. I think they are best read on a Sunday morning as a sort of personal Sunday newspaper.

The pastor's writing is a reflection on Kelly Brown Douglas’s book, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God.

Brazilian Farmers won't sell their coffee crops until prices rebound from record lows.

The current price of coffee futures on the commodities market has, as of writing this, dipped just below the $.91 mark, bottoming out thus far today at 90.88 cents. It is sadly no longer news when the C price hits a new low; the only number that seems to be increasing is just exactly how long it is has been since the price of coffee was this low. Currently, that number sits at 13 years.

In response to this, some Brazilian farmers are refusing to sell their harvest until there is what Bloomberg calls a “price miracle.” Sprudge

Ireland shits on the GDPR.

Years before the social-media giant unwittingly released the personal data of 87 million users that made its way to Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 Trump campaign, Ireland’s data-privacy regulator found that it was failing to screen applications in a way that could have prevented the breach.

The then-head of Ireland’s Data Protection Commission recorded his complaint in a 2011 audit report that zeroed in on how Facebook was allowing outside app developers to gain access to oceans of “friend” data. Facebook pushed back on the finding, according to the agency, and the Irish regulator backed off, issuing an almost perfect score for Facebook’s privacy practices in a follow-up report a year later. The rampant exposure of data wasn’t corrected until years later — too late to prevent the Cambridge Analytica breach.How one country blocks the world on data privacy by NICHOLAS VINOCUR

I perused Dooce. I wonder what it feels like for her kids to go out into a world where people know everything about them. What does it feel like to live without anonymity, because your parent has shared photos and details of your life since before you were born? How did her co-workers feel when they found out they were the subject of her blog posts?

Armstrong lives on a quiet, leafy street in Salt Lake City, at the bottom of the snow-capped Wasatch mountain. She shares a home with her boyfriend Pete Ashdown, an early internet mogul and fellow ex-Mormon, and her two daughters, 15-year-old Leta and 9-year-old Marlo.

Armstrong is tall, thin, and blonde — precisely the stereotype of a successful blogger. Except, she notes with a sly grin while petting her Australian shepherd, Coco, “I’m also an irreverent ex-Mormon who is willing to speak her mind.” She admits she has a tendency for melodrama. She curses often and exaggerates frequently.

While she still chronicles her life — her family’s lives — on Dooce, her focus right now is on mental health. This is why she recently published her third book, The Valedictorian of Being Dead, a raw account of her experience with depression and how the trial at the University of Utah helped her recover. “I want people with depression to feel like they are seen,” she says, “especially here in Utah, where teen suicide is an epidemic.”

Armstrong has struggled with depression since college. But she also believes the major depressive episode she experienced two years ago was likely a consequence of sharing her life online so publicly, and for so long.

“The hate was very, very scary and very, very hard to live through,” she says. “It gets inside your head and eats away at your brain. It became untenable.” She was the “queen of the mommy bloggers.” Then her life fell apart. By Chavie Lieber for Vox

The tunnels carrying commuter trains from New Jersey into New York City need repair. New York and New Jersey state government don't have the budget to pay for repairs. The cheap way forward - shutting down the tunnels -would affect the regional economy. New York City wants to charge a commuter tax, in addition to the $35 round-trip cost of a ticket.

According to a study conducted by the Regional Plan Association, a partial shutdown of the Hudson River tunnel to repair damage without having a new tunnel already built would cost the economy an estimated $16 billion over four years, and would reduce home values by an estimated $22 billion, Wright said. A shutdown would also mean a dramatic increase in commuter travel times, increased congestion on public transit and roadways, decreased economic productivity, and job losses, he said.

Train travel below the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York is already unreliable due to the tunnel’s advanced age and the extensive damage the tunnels sustained during Superstorm Sandy. “The frog is already boiling,” Wright said. The tunnel is deteriorating and will soon reach the end of its useful life. In order to repair the existing tunnel, the two tubes would need to be closed one by one, reducing the number of trains going in and out of Penn Station by as much as 75 percent. Wright said an estimated 38,000 commuters would need to find another way in and out of New York if one of the two tubes is shut down for repairs before a new tunnel is built.

And public transportation ridership is down.Why Princeton area residents should care about the Gateway Tunnel project by Krystal Knapp (Planet Princeton)

The New York Congestion Commuter Tax will be an additional cost for drivers enters Manhattan from toll bridge and tunnels. I don't drive into Manhattan. I prefer driving to Jersey City, parking and taking the PATH or water ferry to lower Manhattan. A congestion tax would certainly encourage more people to take that route, making that a less desirable option for me. It would most likely also raise the price of the PATH and ferry as demand increases.

Starting in early 2021, vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street will pay a toll to raise money to fix New York City’s beleaguered subway. While the fees have not been set, some experts believe it could cost about $14, igniting a fight among interest groups to win exemptions or discounts.

About 115,000 people drive from New Jersey into Manhattan below 60th Street every weekday — about 13 percent of the 880,000 people who drive into the congestion zone, according to a 2017 count by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, a prominent planning agency. That does not include an additional 150,000 people who cross the George Washington Bridge each day, from New Jersey to New York, many of whom are also destined for the congestion zone.
Furious drivers and elected officials might have few options aside from lobbying Mr. Cuomo and transit leaders. Other groups have started jockeying for favors. Leaders on Staten Island want a discount for drivers using the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge so they are not tolled twice. Police officers are calling for an exemption when they drive to work.

But the outcry is perhaps loudest in New Jersey, a place that some say has a chip on its shoulder when it comes to New York. “I’m waiting for the Oxygen tax,” one man vented on Facebook. “That’s fine,” another man wrote. “I’ll never drive there again.”

Drivers already pay as much as $15 to use the Lincoln and Holland tunnels or the George Washington Bridge to enter Manhattan. Some might switch to New Jersey Transit, the state’s commuter railroad and bus network. But the system is often no more reliable than the subway and also suffers from years of neglect. New York Is Adopting Congestion Pricing. New Jersey Wants Revenge. By Emma G. Fitzsimmons for the New York Times

Currently, a one-way commute from my home to New York City, using public transportation, takes over two hours. Shutting down the tunnel would likely cause some people to reevaluate where they work. I’d be extremely reluctant to commute three or more hours. Will upgrading the tunnels do anything to stem the reduction in the use of public transit?

In cities across the country, 2018 transit ridership numbers continued to slip as would-be riders turned to other modes of transportation — namely private vehicles.

Public transit ridership declined to a level not seen since 2006, according to statistics compiled by the American Public Transportation Association, falling 2 per cent compared to 2017 levels.

The drop marks a trend that started in 2015, following a banner year in 2014, when ridership reached 10.8 billion trips, a level not seen since the middle of the last century.

And the declines seem to affect transit agencies at all levels. In fact, the largest public transit systems — New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C. — all posted declines in 2018 ridership.2018 Was the Year of the Car, and Transit Ridership Felt It

Kara Swisher think that Web 3.0 is dead and is being replaced by whatever comes next. She thinks AI is going to crush the world.

Computing as we know it is being changed by AI and machine learning. It is already everywhere — from when you talk to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa or see your list of movies on Netflix or interact with a chatbot. Its use, both generally and for highly specific things, has and will continue to impact innumerable fields, resulting in massive job disruption.

Economists and consulting firms have long predicted that AI will change workplaces and the workforce, but I think they’ve been underselling it. For example, when a Google deep learning program can quickly study a super-complex multiplayer strategy game and then kick the crap out of the best human players on the planet, perhaps we should think hard about where it will go next.Can anyone tame the next internet?

Men are "nothing more than a walking paycheck".

What's the Problem with Masculinity? -

Again, for most of civilization, young men were the ones responsible for protecting society. By the time they were adults, they needed to be battle-hardened and physically strong — the survival of the community often depended on it. As a result, brutal, physical violence among men (through organized sport) was celebrated (and still is today, although this is beginning to change). And men who weren’t able to make the cut were shamed for their physical weakness, for their emotional displays and vulnerable demands for affection. Men were meant to be ruthlessly competitive, and emotionlessly self-contained.

And this was the hidden cost for their physical, and later political dominance, in human society — as men, we are taught from a young age to hide from our emotions rather than to engage them.8

Well, this may not surprise you, but repressing emotions fucks people up. And shaming people for weakness and vulnerability can result in all sorts of mental health problems, not to mention encourage them to lash out in anti-social ways (i.e., shoot up a school, or ram a car into a crowd of people, sign up to be a militant in some crazy religious organization — sound familiar?).

Men commit suicide at a rate five times that of women while teenage boys commit suicide nine times more often than girls.9 They are also diagnosed with depression and ADHD at a rate of 4-to-1 to girls the same age.10 Men make up 23 of the homeless population,11 are more than twice as likely to become alcoholics and are approximately three times more likely to become drug addicts.12 It’s widely documented that men are far less likely to ask for professional help, medical or otherwise, even when experiencing significant health problems or depression.13

Men are the victims of the majority of violent crime, but also far less likely to report it for fear of appearing weak. One survey found that 40% of the victims of domestic violence are men, yet they were far less likely to report the violence and far less likely to be taken seriously by police.14 Men take on more dangerous jobs and are less likely to report any injury suffered at work. Men work far longer hours, take fewer vacations and sick days, and suffer worse symptoms of chronic stress and fatigue. Men even die on the job at a startling rate. In short, most men treat themselves as nothing more than a walking paycheck.15

When the skies are cloudy all day

It seems some of my friends in the diabetes community have been feeling a bit "low" lately ( yes pun intended ).  Bernard has been feeling tired and down on himself while Allison has had trouble making Lemonade ( what's with the puns! ).  Yeah.  I've been there.  Not recently.  But on occasion, I have felt not quite with it.  Sometimes it's because I can't eat what I want when I want.  Or sometimes I hate having to take another finger stick.  I get sad and pissed off that I did nothing to deserve this.  The same hyperactive immune system that kept me from getting sick when all around me people were succumbing to the flu or some other bug that was going around is the same immune system that is slowly wiping out my insulin-producing cells.  Well, not today.  Today, right now, I am taking the kids to Tae Kwan Doe.