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Antonio D'souza
Works at Google
Attended Waterloo
Lives in Manhattan, NY
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Antonio D'souza

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I've been fascinated by the idea of the four fundamental forces in physics ever since I first learned of the idea. I used it as a metaphor for Big History in A Brief History of the Corporation a fe...
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Why the GOP hasn't (yet) paid for its march to the right.
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Can you release new features to your customers every week? Every day? Every hour? Do new developers deploy code on their first day, or even during job interviews?...
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A very large study in Toronto shows that an additional 11 trees along a neighborhood street improves health in a way comparable to "being 1.4 years younger."
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Roosevelt island.
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Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility in Feeding. For a PDF of Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility in Feeding, click here. For a PDF of Ellyn Satter's División de la Responsabilidad al Alimentar (DOR in Spanish), click here. Children have natural ability with eating.
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Antonio D'souza

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Something momentous happened around the year 2000: a major new soft technology came of age. After written language and money, software is  only the third major soft technology to appear in human ci...
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The "broken windows" theory of crime prevention – that by cracking down on the visible symptoms of poverty and neglect, like broken windows or loitering, community norms would shift and other crime would decrease – has been popular for over 30 years. It comes chock-full of advantages, like requiring police departments to do things that are straightforward to achieve and measure, [1] but it has the basic problem that it doesn't seem to work.

New research is shedding deeper light on the underlying social processes which do work, however, and that's why this is a "Today I Learned" article instead of a "Politics, Society, and the Law" article. This team did a large-scale data analysis of Boston between 2011 and 2012, and found that the events (from arrest, 911, and 311 records) fell into a few natural categories: private neglect, like rats in buildings or parking on lawns; public denigration, like graffiti and broken windows; private conflict, like domestic and landlord-tenant disputes; public disorder, like reports of panhandlers and drunks; and public violence. They broke public violence down further into "basic" violence, violence involving guns, and homicides.

They compared how these different kinds of issue cropped up over space and time. While it wasn't possible to test if one thing caused another, it was possible to do what's called "cross-time correlation:" does having a lot of public denigration in a place, for example, correlate with having more public disorder or violence there later?

The answers were quite interesting. Unsurprisingly, the strongest correlations are between private conflict and public disorder and violence. Those, in turn, tend to feed back on themselves, sometimes escalating to guns, which are (by far) the main predictor of homicides. Perhaps more surprisingly, public denigration – the classic "broken windows" – showed no predictive power at all.

If we think about how conflicts tend to escalate, this makes a certain sense; if nobody had ever told you about "broken windows" theories, you would say that most fights (and murders) are between people who know each other, most fights start small and grow larger, fights between people can last a long time and spread to include other people, happen in private and in public, and so on, and probably more fights have their first origins in private than in public, but not by much.

The statements above probably seem pretty obvious, which is what made the broken windows idea seem so radical: it was upending all of this, suggesting that maybe the reason people thought it was OK to get into ever-escalating fights was the sense of decay around them, and if we just made everything look nicer, people would stop doing that.

It was a radical, but not crazy, idea; people do react to their surroundings and take cues from it. But the data increasingly seems to suggest that it's interesting, but wrong.

If this particular study has captured the real mechanisms – and as it's a study of just one city over one time window, it's far too small to give us real certainty of that – then it suggests that a more effective role for police would be to act as moderators of disputes, helping resolve and stop fights before they escalate. That's obviously a much harder job than ticketing panhandlers.

Of course, that answer may itself suffer from the blinders of asking "what can the police do?," when it's not obvious that the police are even the right mechanism. If there's one reliable pattern in sociological studies, it's that people don't become drug dealers, armed robbers, or junkies because they're stupid, inherently evil, or have some kind of cross-generational proclivity to do it; they do these things as fairly rational choices given an extremely limited set of options. [2]

That means that even murder is a symptom, rather than a cause, and actually fixing these problems will require answering deeper questions, like "why are people resolving their disputes by murder, rather than (say) talking it out, suing each other, or just moving away from each other?" In general, what we discover is that those alternatives aren't useful options to the people involved for various reasons which aren't always obvious to outsiders – and it's understanding that sort of thing which is the key to actually fixing things.


[1] And perhaps more importantly, it provides neat political narratives, as well as a good rationalization for policies that the public may want but not wish to admit to, such as forcibly removing the homeless or policing racial groups. The sad fact is that the politics of criminal law almost invariably boil down to something sordid.

[2] Even, perhaps especially, taking drugs. The key result is the famous "Rat Park" experiment (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Park), which found the flaw in all those experiments that showed that rats will instantly become addicted to cocaine or heroin and take it until they die: the cages were confusing the experiment. When rats had an option of doing normal rat things or taking drugs, they had very little interest in drugs; they became addicted when it was a choice of that or being locked in a featureless white cage without drugs for months on end. This result has since been generalized beyond rats, but the key idea is there.
Why community policing should focus on helping to resolve personal and domestic disputes, not signs of physical decay.
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after i wrote it, i realized this comic actually works PRETTY WELL for parents to send to non-parent friends too!  it is... the universal comic??
just say "your baby is cool and good" and wash your hands of the matter
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Market forces at work: treat teachers badly enough for long enough and eventually there will be a big shortage of them, especially in states where politicians meddle in education too much. Time to start giving teachers more autonomy in the classroom, dropping the constant standardized tests, treating them with more respect and - in the short term - importing them from other countries.
'How ironic it would be if the reforms based on the belief that three great teachers in a row are the key to student success, result in students not having certified teachers at all.'
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It's easier to measure the quality of education at the country level over all the years it takes to reach adulthood. Maybe teachers are feeling the equivalent of when office workers need to give status reports every day on a project intended to span years, being judged on short term progress often heavily influenced by chance. Optimizing for those metrics is often bad for the project in the long run. We complain about CEOs playing to short term metrics for stock gain.
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In 1978, Marvel comics published Devil Dinosaur, a story by Jack Kirby about a red Tyrannosaurus Rex and his caveman-like friend, Moon-Boy. The...
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Antonio's Collections
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Have him in circles
1,158 people
Sellkr Adver (Ad Posting)'s profile photo
Randall Snyder, Jr.'s profile photo
Faith Couch's profile photo
Skye K's profile photo
Amirsuki Asia's profile photo
Joanne Goveas's profile photo
Ananda Bhattacharya's profile photo
Marcus Dover's profile photo
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Work
Occupation
Software Engineer
Skills
Go, C++, Scala, Java, Interaction Design
Employment
  • Google
    Sr. Software Engineer, 2011 - present
    I work on infrastructure for the data that powers Google Maps.
  • Gilt Groupe
    Software Engineer, 2011 - 2011
  • Chartbeat
    Sr. Software Engineer, 2010 - 2011
  • VMware
    Software Engineer, 2005 - 2009
  • Sun Microsystems
    Software Development Intern, 2003 - 2003
  • IBM Canada
    Software Development Intern, 2002 - 2003
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Manhattan, NY
Previously
Karachi - Toronto, ON, Canada - San Francisco, CA, USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Montreal, Quebec
Story
Tagline
I flout the Kyriarchy.
Introduction
I am curious, levelheaded, flexible and highly interactive.
Bragging rights
Survived typhoid, climbed up a live volcano, visited all 6 inhabited continents, can hang upside-down by my toes.
Collections Antonio is following
Education
  • Waterloo
    Computer Science, 1999 - 2005
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Relationship
Married
Other names
Michaelangelo, Tony
Antonio D'souza's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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Choice of sugar and ice levels!
Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
The spicy fried mushrooms are excellent.
Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
Easily one of the best places I've had my hair cut in NYC.
Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
The crab curry, seekh kebab and coconut puri are reliably delicious. This is the best Indian food I've been able to find in Manhattan north of Murray Hill.
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago
436 reviews
Map
Map
Map
Achieves the trifecta of cheap, healthy and delicious. Even manages to be fast.
Public - in the last week
reviewed in the last week
Sigh. I wish they were open on Sundays.
Public - a week ago
reviewed a week ago
The skylight in the seating area is a work of art.
Public - a month ago
reviewed a month ago