more green less crime, the SOPA show trials, the wall street meltdown and the big lie

green urban blur wallpaper

More support for the “broken windows” theory, More Green, Less Crime: Rehabilitating Vacant Lots Improves Urban Health and Safety, Penn Study Finds

Greening of vacant urban land may affect the health and safety of nearby residents, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology this week. The team, led by senior author Charles C. Branas, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, found in a decade-long comparison of vacant lots and improved vacant lots, that greening was linked to significant reductions in gun assaults across most of Philadelphia and significant reductions in vandalism in one section of the city. Vacant lot greening was also associated with residents in certain sections of the city reporting significantly less stress and more exercise.

“Improving the places where people live, work and play, holds great promise for changing health and safety,” says Branas. “Greening vacant lots is a low-cost, high-value approach, which may prevent certain crimes and encourage healthy activity for more people and for longer periods of time than many other approaches.”


The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in partnership with the City of Philadelphia did go a bit further than just repairing some windows and hauling off debris. They used some low-cost wood rail fencing and added grass and ornamental shrubs and trees. Still compared to housing a prisoner for a cost of around $18k a year the cost of some basic landscaping is a bargain. There some photos at the link of before and after projects that are worth a look. Unfortunately you may need to use the magnification function of you browser to see them clearly.

black and white city intersection

Nearly 70% Of Super Rich Kids Take A Job At Daddy’s Firm

Members of the 1% are clearly at an advantage when it comes to opportunity, and that advantage carries through when it comes to finding a job.

While it’s common for people to find employment through family and friends, there’s a direct correlation between a father’s income and the likelihood his son will work for the same employer, according to a report last year in the Journal of Labor Economics (via Miles Corak, who co-wrote the paper).

The researchers found that that among its subjects, around 40% of young Canadian men had been employed by an employer for whom their father worked.

But for earners in the top percentile, that figure jumps to around nearly 70%.

Writes Corak:

All parents want to help their children in whatever way they can. But top earners can do it more than others, and with more consequence: virtually guaranteeing, if not a lifetime of high earnings, at least a great start in life.


Pointing out that some people are lucky is not or should not be about envy. If you start a race at the starting line and the other runners start fifty yards ahead, they hardly have the right to say they won by virtue of talent, skills or initiative alone. That is generally where the resentment seems to start. Some millionaires do have a social conscience, realizing they do bear some obligations under our social contract not to be too greedy.

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What caused the financial crisis? The Big Lie goes viral. By Barry Ritholtz. Conservatives and libertarians both ( increasingly indistinguishable) have claimed that the recession or Wall Street melt down was the result of a variety of straw men – too much regulation, Washington should have just let the entire financial system collapse – survival of the fittest and all that, low-income families savaged the country in some vast financial conspiracy even if they are the most powerless Americans. A litany of delusions, lies and venality that defies reason. One of the major reasons Wall Street could bring the economy to its knees were the break down of regulation and the increasingly libertarian view of financial regulation. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan was a known acolyte of Randian economic philosophy. he alone could have substantially reduced the damage.

At Web censorship hearing, Congress guns for “pro-pirate” Google

Right from the start, the knives were out for Google. Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) made it only halfway through his opening statement before asserting that “one of the companies represented here today has sought to obstruct the Committee’s consideration of bipartisan legislation. Perhaps this should come as no surprise given that Google just settled a federal criminal investigation into the company’s active promotion of rogue websites that pushed illegal prescription and counterfeit drugs on American consumers.”

SOPA would require search engines, payment processors, ISPs, and ad networks to block access to “rogue websites” on a judge’s order. While critics have raised serious concerns about how this could affect the Internet’s domain name system, affect free speech, and sweep in a host of legal sites, the bill’s backers suggested that it was really just about money. Google didn’t want to stop piracy because it made so much money from it.


This hearing was no more than a rabidly one-sided show trial. One person who objected to SOPA was allowed to testify. Like some parrot tuck in manic mode the committee chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) just kept calling any objection to SOPA the pro-piracy position.

The Consumer Electronics Association, which was apparently denied a chance to participate in the hearing, also pulled no punches. “The bill attempts a radical restructuring of the laws governing the Internet,” said CEO Gary Shapiro. “It would undo the legal safe harbors that have allowed a world-leading Internet industry to flourish over the last decade. It would expose legitimate American businesses and innovators to broad and open-ended liability. The result will be more lawsuits, decreased venture capital investment, and fewer new jobs. The significant potential harms of this bill are reflected by the extraordinary coalition arrayed against it. Concerns about SOPA have been raised by Tea Partiers, progressives, computer scientists, human rights advocates, venture capitalists, law professors, independent musicians, and many more. Unfortunately, these voices were not heard at today’s hearing.”

Over in the Senate, people like Ron Wyden (D-OR) watched the “not entirely fair and balanced” hearing with horror. Wyden, who helped author the key Internet safe harbors that have keep sites like Google, Yahoo, and eBay from being sued out of oblivion for the actions of others, submitted a statement of his own. “We took the opportunity to pass a law that said that neutral parties on the net are not liable for the actions of bad actors,” he wrote. “So now, as we again debate Web censorship, let’s ask ourselves: what next generation of innovations won’t be realized if we backtrack on that principal now? Yes, the Internet needs reasonable laws and bad actors need to be pursued, but the freedoms of billions of individual Internet users should not be sacrificed in the interest of easing that pursuit.”


A disturbing screen capture by Techcrunch of what Tumblr would look like if SOFA passes – Tumblr Takes Fight Against SOPA Up A Notch, ‘Censors’ User Dashboards. And BoingBoing reproduces the ad run by the anti-SOPA side – Internet giants place full-page anti-SOPA ad in NYT.

Girl In A Coma – While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun