Bribing the taxpayer, from The Economist:
Any talk of tax reform in America quickly turns to “tax expenditures”, meaning the code’s myriad exemptions, deductions and credits. These now cost 7% of GDP.
This number mis-represents what’s occurring. As of 2012, the United States’s effective tax rate was 26.9% of GDP. 7% of GDP being spent on “tax expenditures” means that the tax system is set up to collect 33.9% of total GDP, but loses 23% of that income to these expenditures.
America loses “7% of GDP”, or more accurately, 23% of taxes owed to tax expenditures. Nearly one of every four dollars destined for the government coffers finds a way to avoid them, through mortgage deductions and other credits. Surely there’s a better way to collect this revenue.
I’ve been struggling to attach the right phrase to the post-90s wave gentrification that attacked New York in full force and appears to be clawing into the dirt in San Francisco.
Gentrification’s classically modern form seems limited, even restrained when compared to today’s trends. Earlier gentrification began with new families moving into old houses and apartment buildings, perhaps renovating units; their relative competitiveness in labor and spending headroom warps the neighborhood’s economic priorities as corner stores and low-end food venues are converted to coffee shops and high-end restaurants.
New York has seen the wholesale destruction and rebuilding of areas targeted for “re-development”. There is no nuance, no restraint in this hyper-gentrification: it seeks to raze an area and rebuild it to resemble some developer’s dreams.
Hyper-gentrification is a wholly new term for the current wave of renovation that I believe is occurring in New York and San Francisco.
From here, I have only pull-quotes to offer. Do yourself a huge favor, and read Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York's piece on hyper-gentrification.
Hyper-gentrification is much more widespread. Unlike first-generation gentrification, it doesn’t target only faded neighborhoods with architecture that inspires rehabilitation, it infects the city as a whole, invading previously gentrified neighborhoods as well as poor, working class, industrial, and already bustling commercial districts. Utterly unflinching, it eagerly spreads into the most repellent parts of town, diving into toxic waste dumps, snuggling up to slaughter houses, planting luxury condo towers in sections that border on noisy highways, traffic tunnels, and train tracks. No part of the city is safe from the multi-pronged, ever-spreading reach of hyper-gentrification. It’s big and it’s fast. It moves at hyper-speed, packed with the power to completely and dramatically transform an entire neighborhood in no time. What might have taken ten to twenty years under gentrification, now takes only three to five. And everything in its way is expelled, by one method or another.
Gentrification generalized… is a product of globalization and neoliberal urban policies, a return to the 18th-century brand of laissez-faire liberalism that assumed “the free and democratic exercise of individual self-interest led to the optimal collective social good” and that “the market knows best.”
The generalization of gentrification began in the 1990s and was preceded by two previous waves of gentrification. In the first wave… the agents of change were members of the middle- and upper-middle class; for example, men and women working as lawyers, editors, and small business owners, who purchased run-down brownstones in poor or working-class neighborhoods and fixed them up using their own “sweat equity.”… First-wave gentrification was sporadic and marginal, without the powerful government and corporate backing needed to change the city as a whole.
In the second wave of gentrification, through the 1970s and 1980s, the process took root, becoming “increasingly entwined with wider processes of urban and economic restructuring,”… As it grew, opposition forces emerged to fight against it. This was the time when anti-gentrification protests flared and were quashed by a city government now deeply invested in “making the city safe for gentrification.”…
… [W]hat makes hyper-gentrification different from the old-fashioned kind?
Intensified partnerships between the city government and private capital, “resulting in larger, more expensive, and more symbolic” real-estate developments.
A “new influx of global capital into large megadevelopments,” as well as smaller neighborhood developments like luxury condos on the Lower East Side, in which, for example, Israeli developers are sponsored by European banks.
Authoritarian city politicians and police working to crush anti-gentrification opposition.
Outward diffusion—as prices rise at the city’s center, generalized gentrification spreads out to more distant neighborhoods.
Finally, this third wave is unregulated, free-market gentrification, independent of public financing and therefore unaccountable to larger social needs. It is the first brand of gentrification to enjoy “the full weight of private-market finance.” It’s gentrification that says (in my words), “I can live wherever I want and do whatever I want, because I have the money to do it.”
In my 2011 interview with Smith, he described exactly what the difference between gentrification to hyper-gentrification looks like, saying, “If the rehabilitation of a brownstone in the West Village or Park Slope typified gentrification in the 1970s, by the 1990s and 2000s it was the disneyfication of Times Square, the condominium frenzy on the Bowery, and a corporate fill-in of the previously low-rent spaces feeding out from Manhattan—Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, etc., and now the superfunded Gowanus.”
"Disney-fication" is a term I love for this. It’s a managed, top-down, clean-up-the-streets effort that seems rooted in 1950s-era racism and classism. It seeks the eradication of anything that may disrupt, disturb, or challenge the worldview of the new upper class. The upper class is the hand that feeds, so governments and private industry warp around them to coddle them, to keep them safe and warm, to extract whatever rents they can from their pocketbooks.
The Snowden Effect, originally penned here, speaks to a way to discuss the effect of “released information begets more released information”:
Direct and indirect gains in public knowledge from the cascade of events and further reporting that followed a release of classified information about the surveillance state in the U.S.
("Leak" is the usual word people use, and it’s dead wrong. The released information was not a juicy tidbit muttered in a reporter’s ear, but a multi-gigabyte trove of documents: the pre-digital age’s name of “leak” simply falls flat. “Wendalyn Nichols… proposed rupture as an alternative label, evoking ‘a wound that can’t clot, that is not self-healing.’ “)
More generally, here’s what this particular release of information accomplished:
Congress and other governments begin talking in public about things they had previously kept hidden. Companies have to explain some of their dealings with the state. Journalists who were not a party to the transaction with Snowden start digging and adding background. Debates spring to life that had been necessary but missing before the leaks. The result is that we know much more about the surveillance state than we did before. Some of the opacity around it lifts. This is the Snowden effect.
Written in July 2013, the above link already has a very, very long list of additional information that’s been released as a direct result of the initial release of documents from The Guardian and other publications.
“Exclusives” can be counterproductive if they lead other journalists to ignore or downplay the news, whether out of jealousy or inability to get the confirming source material for their own coverage.
The NSA revelations were different because the journalists who received the documents, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, gave some of them to a variety of news organizations. And at least one of those news organizations, The Guardian further shared what it had, in part to prevent U.K. authorities from shutting down the coverage. Moreover, the journalists and organizations have paced themselves in revealing new information every week or two, in a drumbeat that reveals one stunning piece of news after another.
This nearly unprecedented level of cooperation has turned a multimedia, multi-organization journalistic epic. It’s almost like a great weekly TV show, where we look forward to the latest installment, expecting a new twist in each episode.
I think this is an incredibly healthy change for journalism. It will be of huge consequence and benefit to the public at large, and has the power to change how the voting public interacts with their governments.
How the United States allowed some of its most precious assets to decay so badly may say something about both its character and its leadership. This is a nation ever in the thrall of innovation. We like to build new things. We’re not so crazy about the drudgery of keeping the old in decent shape.
Infrastructure isn’t fun, but we need it to operate, from the New York Times (title is my own)
… the complexity of the idea and the difficulty of doing it are separate, independent dimensions.
The (poorly-titled) 5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus discusses the idea of turning traditional teaching of mathematics on its head, and argues that complex concepts should be introduced to children at far younger ages than education currently does.
Consider the brain’s plasticity at that age and the mind’s natural ability to visualize and imagine problems, and this makes a great deal of sense. Invoking the right metaphors can help guide one to an intuitive and strong understanding of a highly technical problem. Once a firm mental model has been built, any highly complex parts of the problem can have additional detail added. The high-level view is a foundation for this detail to rest upon, transforming it from distracting minutiae to important data which helps strengthen the original mental model.
Coming of Age in the Milky Way contains one such step-by-step explanation of calculus. It deftly explained the problems that previous methods faced and showed how calculus gave mathematicians a new toolkit for solving otherwise intractable problems.
While you’re at it: re-read this old-but-good post about Core Animation’s 3D model. It helps demystify
CATransform3D's commonly modified
This is another good resource about Core Animation which is a bit more code-focused:
The one thing to know is that the transform matrix
CATransform3Dis applied using:
transform: apply the transform to the layer and its sublayers relative to the layer’s anchorPoint.
sublayerTransform: apply the matrix only to the layer’s sublayers, rather than to the layer itself.
/* When true this layer is allowed to antialias its edges, as requested * by the value of the edgeAntialiasingMask property. * * The default value is read from the boolean UIViewEdgeAntialiasing * property in the main bundle's Info.plist. If no value is found in * the Info.plist the default value is NO. */ @property BOOL allowsEdgeAntialiasing;
With the palms zipping past and the big sun burning down on the road ahead, I had a flash of something I hadn’t felt since my first months in Europe - a mixture of ignorance and a loose, “what the hell” kind of confidence that comes on a man when the wind picks up and he begins to move in a hard straight line toward an unknown horizon.
– Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary. (via Patrick Piemonte)
I’ve suffered too many lost hours working on
UITableView when managing cell insertion and deletion to match updates to the table’s data source.
You typically shouldn’t need to ship with hammer-meets-insect calls to
reloadData for these delta updates to the view, but it can be useful for debugging. For one bug I recently fixed, it made it easy to narrow down the cause: I had a cell that wasn’t staying selected after being scrolled off-screen. Since I was staring at the code for selecting the cell and could verify it worked, a simple call to
reloadData showed me that I’d forgotten to set the cell’s selection state in