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For the Poor, Obamacare Can Reduce Late Rent Payments
When Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision in 2012 to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the court set the stage for a natural experiment in economics. His majority opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius invalidated the part of the law that would have penalized states that refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion, making it optional for states to extend coverage for the most vulnerable Americans. As a result, poor adults in some states would receive health insurance, while poor adults in others would go without.

The court’s carveout made it possible to compare the haves with the have-nots across state lines. A new study does precisely that—and finds that access to subsidized health insurance dramatically boosts financial outcomes. Those who were able to acquire health insurance under Obamacare’s subsidized exchanges were 25 percent less likely to miss paying their rent or mortgage on time.
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3 days ago by rosscatrow
What Happens When You’re Convinced You Have Bad Genes
The Stanford team devised two experiments. About half of the participants got a result—a fake one—for a gene linked to exercise, then had to run on a treadmill. The other half got a result for a gene linked to hunger, then had to drink a 480-calorie smoothie. Those told they had the “worse” version of the genes quit running earlier and reported feeling hungrier than those told they had the “better” version of the genes. Curiously, even their lung function and hunger-hormone levels appeared to change.
4 days ago by rosscatrow
Taking the Bus: Nonprofit Conferences and Integrity of Purpose
If these were corporate events, I could chalk this up to snobbishness, but the events I travel to are universally concerned with some aspect of fighting poverty and developing healthy, affordable communities, and it’s extremely clear that a strong public transit system is a core component of those goals. As Dace West, former executive director of Mile High Connects in Denver wrote in NPQ, transit can “enhance access to opportunity for low-income communities and communities of color by connecting them to affordable housing, healthy environments, quality education, and well-paying jobs”—or, of course, lack of transit access can impede access to these things.

Our nonprofits often advocate for local transit spending, but when we gather, we seem to forget these values. How would we know what the transit of a given city is like if we never ride their buses? Worse, we typically support ride-hailing services with our dollars that often contribute to the very problems of poverty our conferences aim to address.
7 days ago by rosscatrow
Are Pop Lyrics Getting More Repetitive?
You may not have heard of the Lempel-Ziv algorithm, but you probably use it every day. It's a lossless compression algorithm that powers gifs, pngs, and most archive formats (zip, gzip, rar...).

What does this have to do with pop music? The Lempel-Ziv algorithm works by exploiting repeated sequences. How efficiently LZ can compress a text is directly related to the number and length of the repeated sections in that text.

Here's how it works.
11 days ago by rosscatrow
Reasoning About Your Own Performance, Part 1: Yerkes-Dodson
As knowledge workers on the bleeding edge of the New Way of Working, it can feel like we’re inventing and discovering everything as we go along. Everything feels brand new.
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13 days ago by lumengxi
What You Should Know About Your Bus Driver
People at all income levels ride the bus, but serving our homeless and low-income passengers has shown me how disability, mental illness, addiction, and trauma intersect with a person’s housing status or lack of money. Muni trains us on inclusivity and diversity, and during one such training, the facilitator told us that early-onset schizophrenia often presents when a person is about 15 years old.

“So that person on your bus screaming about God or the devil is somebody who never got to attend their high school prom,” she told us, “because their world became very frightening and hard to understand before their senior year.”

I try not to forget that when a passenger with behavioral health issues is causing me problems.
17 days ago by rosscatrow
The Costs of the Confederacy
For our investigation, the most extensive effort to capture the scope of public spending on Confederate memorials and organizations, we submitted 175 open records requests to the states of the former Confederacy, plus Missouri and Kentucky, and to federal, county and municipal authorities. We also combed through scores of nonprofit tax filings and public reports. Though we undoubtedly missed some expenditures, we have identified significant public funding for Confederate sites and groups in Mississippi, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee.

In addition, we visited dozens of sites, to document how they represent history and, in particular, slavery: After all, the Confederacy’s founding documents make clear that the Confederacy was established to defend and perpetuate that crime against humanity.
18 days ago by rosscatrow
‘Birds Aren’t Real’ Is the Conspiracy Theory Mocking QAnon
Some people believe Earth is flat. Some people believe the Trump administration is using a seedy internet forum to send coded messages about Satanic pedophile rings. Now a movement of young memers is parodying more established conspiracy movements with an outlandish claim of its own.

The U.S. government eradicated all birds in 2001 and replaced them with surveillance drones, the Birds Aren’t Real movement alleges. The movement (which conveniently sells merchandise) is thriving off young people’s sense of the absurd in the Trump era, the movement’s founder said.

It’s disinformation as performance art. And it’s only half as ridiculous as some earnest conspiracy theories.
19 days ago by rosscatrow

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