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Erika Rice Scherpelz
Works at Google
Attended University of Washington
Lives in Kirkland, WA
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Erika Rice Scherpelz

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Privilege is* taking for granted that the default version of something should be targeted to you.




* Note that this is not using "is" in the sense of "is fully defined by" but in the sense of "has as a characteristic". E.g. Love is patient. Love is kind.
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http://youngidealismpdx.blogspot.com/2013/11/being-normalnormative-privilege-part-2.html

"If and when you have normative privilege, the identity you inhabit, live daily, is considered the norm. "

I've been casually searching for years for a good intro article about this. Maybe I should combine sources and write https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative_Privilege
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Things that bug me: When people who work full days wish that they made the same hourly rate as for-hire service folks (e.g., electricians).

This wish hides two assumptions which make all the difference. First, it assumes that what they charge you is only the time you see. Sometimes this is true, but often times, what they charge implicitly covers driving time or paperwork time or other overhead that you don't see. Second, many of these folks are not actually working full days. Their job load may vary, and the prices they charge most likely reflect an overall reasonable total income.

Yes, there are exceptions, but I expect that most of the complaints I see do not consider what the actual income of these folks who make so much per hour is.
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As the wife of someone who works for a consulting firm, I can verify that the same holds true there, too. His time is billed to clients at a rate much higher than what we see directly - but he gets paid even if there isn't work right then, we have insurance, Social Security, etc. And then, of course, there's the fact that someone else finds new clients/projects for him, and their salary has to be paid, too.
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Water damage from a leaky sprayer. Tearing apart of walls (by professionals) about to commence. :-( :-( :-( :-( 
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:-(
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Quadrant blanket

I made this from all cotton yarn which made it a bit heavy for a baby blanket, but it still turned out nice.

Project info: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/ErikaRS/quadrant
Pattern info: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/quadrant
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Every once in awhile I'll go check on what various negative or annoying people that I use to follow online have been saying. Every time, I have reinforced that yes, I did improve my happiness by removing them. 

(And, to be fair, I probably improved their happiness too, since interactions between us generally resulted in, at best, annoyance.)
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Screenshots have surfaced of a Stars Wars community manager taking a commenter to task over their ideas about "female armor."
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Much like the changing physical design of the phone affected its use for calling people, the changing design of the pen has affected handwriting. You may not realize this, but it's significantly harder on the hands to write with a ballpoint pen than with a fountain pen.

I was personally very aware of this when I was a physicist, since most of the work I had to do was writing and working through page after page of equations, which to this day isn't easy to do on a computer. So it was pens and notebooks all the time, and I became extremely particular about which ones I used: a pen which either had too high a resistance or which dried too slowly, or paper that didn't absorb the ink well, and my work would actively suffer.

(Quite seriously: if your hands hurt too soon, you can't write for hours on end. If the ink smudges as you write -- especially if, like me, you're left-handed -- everything is a lost cause. If the paper doesn't absorb the ink and dry enough for you to flip pages in the notebook, you're lost. Any of these things take time, energy, and concentration, and you simply can't vanish into the flow of the science.)

This article isn't about doing science, but about how the ballpoint pen changed handwriting -- but it's through the exact same process. The various methods of cursive weren't popular primarily for their aesthetics; they were practical methods of writing quickly and legibly. As anyone who remembers having to do this in school can attest, that's always been kind of strange, because with modern pens, Palmer-method cursive is much slower and harder: people tend to develop their own semi-script handwriting for when they actually need to write day-to-day. (Except for handwriting enthusiasts who are doing it for fun)

So when you see the lack of handwriting, instead of crying "O tempora! O mores!," realize that what you're seeing isn't simply a move to computers: it's the evolution of the pen itself.

Via +Patricia Elizabeth 
Thicker ink meant it didn't smudge as easily as its predecessor, the fountain pen—but it also made writing by hand more physically demanding.
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Erika Rice Scherpelz

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Those watching the Republican nomination race have probably noticed the significant success Donald Trump has had with essentially a European far-right platform: anti-immigrant rhetoric with a strong wink towards options of violence both by his followers (e.g. the men who beat a Latino man into the hospital, which he described as his followers being "very passionate" people who "want this country to be great again") and by him officially, if he's elected. (e.g. by forcibly deporting eleven million people; the means of finding them TBD)

So now we enter the second act of this particular black comedy, in which candidates who are having trouble in the polls try to steal Trump's voters by outdoing him. Alas, neither Scott Walker nor Chris Christie have anything resembling the sort of charisma required to lead a white supremacist movement, but you've got to give them points for batshit insane. In the past two days:

Christie wants to bring in Fred Smith of FedEx to work for ICE, and create a system that lets us track immigrants like packages, and find and deport them instantly when we want to. It's not quite clear what method he would prefer for affixing a computer-readable, nonremovable tag to people; some of the better suggestions I've heard so far involve implanting RFID chips in people's arms or necks, requiring that they wear some special identifying clothing, or simply tattooing their ID number on them somewhere. Trust us, nothing could go wrong with this.

(NB that Fred Smith has made no indication that he wants anything to do with Christie's ideas; he is not to blame for this)

Walker, on the other hand, appears to have become enamored of Trump's idea of building a wall sealing us off from Mexico, and wants to take it a step further: he'll not only build that, but notes the "legitimate concerns" which warrant us seriously investigating building a wall with Canada.

No, he does not appear to be joking.

I'm not sure whether he's terrified of an unexpected reprise of the War of 1812, or if there's a fear that Canadians might stream south of the border and... be really polite to people?

But yes, we have finally reached that point in American history where electoral politics and South Park are no longer clearly distinguishable. So alright, everybody – Blame Canada!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOR38552MJA
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Erika Rice Scherpelz

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Quadrant blanket

I made this from all cotton yarn which made it a bit heavy for a baby blanket, but it still turned out nice.

Project info: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/ErikaRS/quadrant
Pattern info: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/quadrant
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There's a certain beauty in the everyday infrastructure that we take for granted. Their focus on functionality creates a simplicity and restraint that emphasizes the essence of their form.

If I ever choose to get seriously into photography, my inspiration may well be be capturing the beauty hidden in the built structure. 
A decade ago, photographer Matt Logue started creating unusual photos of Los Angeles by using Photoshop to remove all the cars and people from the scenes.
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Infrastructure nerd. :)
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Erika Rice Scherpelz

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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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Boom and then darkness. That's never a good sign. 
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Sure it is.  It means that the fireworks display is over and you can take the kids home now.  ;)
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    Software Engineer, present
  • University of Washington
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Kirkland, WA
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Marysville, WA - Claremont,CA - Seattle, WA
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Nerd, crafter, software engineer.
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Education
  • University of Washington
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Marysville-Pilchuck High School
  • Marysville Junior High School
  • Marysville Middle School
  • Marshall Elementary
  • Fairmont Elementary
  • Joy of Learning Montessori Preschool
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Erika Rice
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Great venue for a baby shower! The cupcakes are a bit sweeter than I like, but still very tasty.
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reviewed a year ago
I've been visiting Dr. Kim for years. His office takes great care in finding high quality hygienists who make you feel that the cleaning experience is as pleasant as having your teeth cleaned can be. Dr. Kim lets you know about cosmetic dental options, but he doesn't push them, and he's very clear about when he's making recommendations for medical reasons vs suggestions for aesthetic reasons.
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reviewed a year ago
My favorite hot chocolate in Seattle, plus a great selection of chocolates and truffles.
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reviewed a year ago
The molten chocolate cakes are delicious, but so are the other desserts.
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I've been seeing Cassie at Vain for years, and I've always been happy with the service. The vibe of the salon is contemporary without being pretentious.
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I've been going to Earthly Rituals for years, and I love the personalized experience Patti gives me. Not only do I get her full attention, but she knows my skin well enough to make sure my facial is always customized to what I need that day.
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Very nice, great location for my needs.
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