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Adam Black
Sarcasm, ScienceFuturism, & SuckerPunching Nazis
Sarcasm, ScienceFuturism, & SuckerPunching Nazis


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Resistance School starts tonight

4 sessions in April, Free online Education in Fighting #theTrumpocalypse .

Graduates of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and former Democratic Staffers teach ...

4 nights in April


Here’s the session schedule:

Wednesday, April 5, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m . EST: Communicating our values in political advocacy, featuring Tim McCarthy

Signup here!

Session1 Syllabus>>>

Wednesday, April 12, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. EST: Mobilizing and organizing our communities, featuring Sara El-Amine

Thursday, April 20, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. EST: Structuring and building capacity for action, featuring Marshall Ganz

Thursday April 27, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. EST: Sustaining the resistance long-term, featuring Michael Blake

Sign up below to register your group and we’ll follow up with you with information on logistics and next steps, including the livestream link, detailed instructions for even the least tech-savvy resistors, and a syllabus of suggested readings.

Resistance School is about community. We’re asking you to convene a group to watch together and work as a community to take action - both locally and nationally. During our sessions, we’ll connect members of the Resistance to one another through a nationwide classroom and real-time conversation.

Speakers will provide interactive breakout sessions to allow your group to practice skills and develop plans that fit your local context. We’ll feed questions from the virtual audience back to the speaker to tailor our syllabus to your needs. Convening live across the country, we’ll build the energy we need to move forward together.

After each session, we encourage your group to spend time as a community: stay and chat, plan your action, grab a bite, and build the relationships we need to take back America.

Have questions or suggestions during the session? Send us an email. Tweet us. We’d love to hear from you.

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The U.S. government is using Thanksgiving to hide its plans to destroy net neutrality

Pick up the phone, call your reps and wail on them about the tax scam and net neutrality.
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Vichy GOP

Steal from the poor and give to the rich; stupid bitch
A bullet to the head

Instead of trying to write something as good, I'll just quote Scott Aaronson's blog article in full.

The destruction of graduate education in the United States

If and when you emerged from your happiness bubble to read the news, you’ll have seen (at least if you live in the US) that the cruel and reckless tax bill has passed the House of Representatives, and remains only to be reconciled with an equally-vicious Senate bill and then voted on by the Republican-controlled Senate. The bill will add about $1.7 trillion to the national debt and raise taxes for about 47.5 million people, all in order to deliver a massive windfall to corporations, and to wealthy estates that already pay some of the lowest taxes in the developed world.

In a still-functioning democracy, those of us against such a policy would have an intellectual obligation to seek out the strongest arguments in favor of the policy and try to refute them. By now, though, it seems to me that the Republicans hold the public in such contempt, and are so sure of the power of gerrymandering and voter restrictions to protect themselves from consequences, that they didn’t even bother to bring anything to the debate more substantive than the schoolyard bully’s “stop punching yourself.” I guess some of them still repeat the fairytale about the purpose of tax cuts for the super-rich being to trickle down and help everyone else — but can even they advance that “theory” anymore without stifling giggles? Mostly, as far as I can tell, they just brazenly deny that they’re doing what they obviously are doing: i.e., gleefully setting on fire anything that anyone, regardless of their ideology, could recognize as the national interest, in order to enrich a small core of supporters.

But none of that is what interests me in this post — because it’s “merely” as bad as, and no worse than, what one knew to expect when a coalition of thugs, kleptocrats, and white-nationalist demagogues seized control of Hamilton’s and Jefferson’s experiment. My concern here is only with the “kill shot” that the Republicans have now aimed, with terrifying precision, at the system that’s kept American academic science the envy of the world in spite of the growing dysfunction all around it.

As you’ve probably heard, one of the ways Republicans intend to pay for their tax giveaway, is to change the tax code so that graduate students will now need to pay taxes on “tuition” — a large sum of money (as much as $50,000/year) that PhD students never actually see, that can easily exceed the stipends they do see, and that’s basically just an accounting trick that serves the internal needs of universities and granting agencies. Again, to eliminate any chance of misunderstanding: PhD students, who are effectively low-wage employees, already pay taxes on their actual stipends. The new proposal is that they’ll also have to pay taxes on a whopping, make-believe “X” on their payroll sheet that’s always exactly balanced out by “-X.”

For detailed analyses of the impacts, see, e.g. Luca Trevisan’s post or Inside Higher Ed or the Chronicle of Higher Ed or Vox or NPR. Briefly, though, the proposal would raise taxes by a few thousand dollars per year, or in some cases as much as $10,000 per year (!), on PhD students who already live hand-to-mouth-to-ramen-bowl, with the largest impact falling on students in STEM fields. For many students who aren’t independently wealthy, this could push a PhD beyond the realm of affordability, and cause them to leave academia or to do their graduate work in other countries.

“But isn’t there some workaround?” Indeed, financial ignoramus that I am, my first reaction was to ask: if PhD tuition is basically an accounting fiction anyway, then why can’t the universities just declare that the tuition in question no longer exists, or is now zero dollars? Feel free to explain further in the comments if you understand this stuff, but as far as I can tell, the answer is: because PhD tuition is used to calculate how much “tax” the universities can take from professors’ grant money. If universities could no longer take that tax, and they had no other way to make up for it, then except for the richest few universities, they’d have to scale back research and teaching pretty drastically. To avoid that outcome, the universities would be relying on the granting agencies to let them keep taking the overhead they needed to operate, even though the “PhD tuition” no longer existed. But the granting agencies aren’t set up for this: you just can’t throw a bomb into one part of a complicated bureaucratic machine built up over decades, and expect the machine to continue working with no disruption to science.

But more ominously: as my friend Daniel Harlow and many others pointed out, it’s hard to look at the indefensible, laser-specific meanness of this policy, without suspecting that for many in Congress, the destruction of American higher education isn’t a regrettable byproduct, but the goal — just another piece of red meat to throw to the base. If so, then we’d expect Congress to direct federal granting agencies not to loosen their rules about overhead, thereby forcing the students to pay the tax, and achieving the desired destruction. (Note that the Trump administration has already made tightening overhead rules — i.e., doing the exact opposite of what would be needed to counteract the new tax — a central focus of its attempt to cut federal research funding.)

OK, two concluding thoughts:

1. When Republicans in Congress defended Trump’s travel ban, they at least had the craven excuse that they were only following the lead of the populist strongman who’d taken over their party. Here they don’t even have that. As far as I know, this targeted destruction of American higher education was Congress’s initiative, not Trump’s — which to me, underscores again the feather-thinness of any moral distinction between the Vichy GOP leadership and the administration with which it collaborates. Trump didn’t emerge from nowhere. It took decades of effort — George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Mitch McConnell, and all the rest — to transform the GOP into the pure seething cauldron of anti-intellectual resentment and hatred that we know today.

2. Given the existential risk to American higher education, why didn’t I blog about this earlier? The answer is embarrassing to admit, and reflects no credit on me. It’s simply that I didn’t believe it — even given all the other stuff that could “never happen in the US,” until it happened this past year. I didn’t believe it, not because it was too far from me but because it was too close — because if true, it would mean the crippling of the research world in which I’ve spent most of my life since age 15, so therefore it couldn’t be true. Surely even the House Republicans would realize they’d screwed up this time, and would take out this crazy provision before the full bill was voted on? Or surely there’s some workaround that makes the whole thing less awful than it sounds? There has to be … right?

Anyway, what else is there to say, except to call your representative, if you’re American and still have the faith in the system that such an act implies.


Also read the links and comments on Scott Aaronson's blog, and leave your comments there if you like:
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U2 - The Blackout

It's good...
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