San Diego laid down a bed of sharp rocks under a highway overpass to deter homeless camps

We had a homeless camp set up on the periphery of our neighborhood a short time ago. I called the police a few times to get the homeless people to move on. So I’m sympathetic to the neighborhood concerns there. If what they did was wrong, I’m no better than they are.

As a society, we need to do better for our citizens than create an economy where sleeping under a highway overpass seems like your best option, and then taking that away from them too.

Some citizens of San Diego are urging the government to let the homeless set up micro-houses on vacant lots. Sounds like a good idea to me.

City decision to put rocks under overpass draws praise from residents, criticism from homeless advocates [Gary Warth – San Diego Union Tribune]

A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows

If not capitalism, then what? Just 33% of young people surveyed say they support socialism.

“The word ‘capitalism’ doesn’t mean what it used to,” said Zach Lustbader, a senior at Harvard involved in conducting the poll, which was published Monday. For those who grew up during the Cold War, capitalism meant freedom from the Soviet Union and other totalitarian regimes. For those who grew up more recently, capitalism has meant a financial crisis from which the global economy still hasn’t completely recovered.

A subsequent survey that included people of all ages found that somewhat older Americans also are skeptical of capitalism. Only among respondents at least 50 years old was the majority in support of capitalism.

Even conservatives don’t defend capitalism much anymore. When they talk about “capitalism,” it’s likely to be the phrase “crony capitalism.”

John Della Volpe, the polling director at Harvard, went on to personally interview a small group of young people about their attitudes toward capitalism to try to learn more. They told him that capitalism was unfair and left people out despite their hard work.

“They’re not rejecting the concept,” Della Volpe said. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting.”

Taylor Rose Nations was one of about 1,000 people selected as a finalist for Mars One, a planned real life Martian colony

Pasted_Image_4_24_16__1_39_PM“To turn around and see Earth is a lifelong dream, and not something I ever thought was going to happen in a million years,” she tells the Love + Radio podcast: Hostile Planet

Nations was previously turned down for “The Bachelor.”

We think of certain events as profoundly life-altering. Getting married or emigrating to a new country, say. But you can always get divorced, and you can almost always move back. Taylor is weighing a life decision from which there would be no turning back.

She apparently didn’t make it to the final round for Mars One.

In the final years of the Cold War, a scared 19-year-old German landed a Cessna in Moscow’s Red Square

Pasted_Image_4_24_16__1_21_PMMathias Rust wanted to create an “imaginary bridge” bringing East and West closer together. Things didn’t quite work out for him. He tells his story to Love + Radio.

In 1987, during the last years of the Cold War, a West German teenager with only about 50 hours of flying experience rented a Cessna and departed on a two week trip. His goal was to fly over the Iron Curtain and land in Moscow.

Rust’s Wikipedia entry contradicts the story he tells to Love + Radio in a couple of minor but significant points.

BackStory: Bridge for Sale: Deception in America

C-30CE7CAA-1B6A-4173-85EB-D5B890C39F87The BackStory podcast looks at “the long, veiled history of American deception.”

“Fraud and deception have always haunted the American economy … how generations of Americans have made deception work for them.”

In America, you can be anything you want to be. Or anyone. Literally. So on this edition of BackStory, we dig into the long story of confidence men and counterfeiters. We discover a time when fake money jump-started the economy, and take a look at the long, strange history of “the truth compelling machine.” And, oh yeah… we try to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.

Photo: The Brooklyn Bridge, seen from Manhattan, New York City CC BY-SA 3.0

Cory Doctorow has a fine rant about hotel rooms with confusing lightswitches and plumbing

The quest for the well-labeled inn. [Boing Bong]

I can usually figure out the plumbing fairly quickly. Unlike Cory, virtually all my travel is inside the US, which I expect makes a difference. I’ve never had to deal with a freakshow shower like the one in the photo he posts..

I share Cory’s frustration with lightswitches. I just want to turn out the light and go to bed; I don’t want to go on a goddamn treasure hunt trying to figure out where the switches are.

Not mentioned by Cory: Hotel rooms with inaccessible electrical sockets. This is the 21st Century – we need plenty of electrical sockets to plug in our gadgets, and we need to be able to get at them without moving the furniture. You know what we don’t need? A clock radio. It’s not 1980 anymore. We use our phones to wake us up. If you put in a clock radio, you might as well also include a candlestick phone and Franklin stove.

Help wanted: Questions to weed out job applicants can be accidentally discriminatory

Help wanted: Questions designed to weed out unsuitable job applicants can turn out to be accidentally discriminatory.

Automatically ruling out people with felony convictions, or setting arbitrary standards on experience, can disenfranchise many workers. Better to look at the applicants as whole people.

But what hiring manager has time to do all that, along with their regular work, particularly when hundreds of people are applying for a single position?

Planet Money looks into it, but doesn’t have any answers:

When you’re an employer looking at a giant stack of resumes, you have to find some way to quickly narrow the field. But how do you do that fairly? And what happens when your good intentions backfire?

In this episode, we bring you a group of stories about hiring. We talk to a female software engineer who’s trying to bring blind hiring to Silicon Valley. She’s come up with a way to mask applicants’ voices during an interview—we hear what it sounds like. And, we look at what happened when the nation’s biggest employer began hiring people who had felony records. It turned out that those employees performed just as well as people with no criminal background—sometimes better. The employer? The United States military.

‘He apparently had no fears’: The steep, unexpected downfall of Dennis Hastert

Hastert was so fearless after decades of not being caught that when prosecutors questioned him about suspicious activity in his bank account, he claimed he was being blackmailed.

Hastert claimed that the blackmailer was threatening to go public with false accusations of sexual abuse.

In fact, the allegations were true, and the so-called blackmailer was one of Hastert’s victims, whom Hastert was paying off to keep silent .

The 25 Best Sci-Fi Books Of All Time, According To The Internet

Megan Willett and Peter Jacobs tally them in a 2013 Business Insider article.

I’ve read 19 of these. I haven’t heard of two, or their authors.

I couldn’t finish “Pandora’s Star,” by Peter F. Hamilton; or “Red Mars,” by Kim Stanley Robinson.

I read “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card, and don’t see why people love it so much. I liked it fine, but didn’t love it. I was already an adult when it came out. I suspect I was too old for it to hit me as hard as it hit so many people 10 years or more younger than I am.

Also, it’s a novel that gets creepier the more you think about it. It’s a love letter to the strong man theory of history. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin would love it.

And there’s also the whole Orson Scott Card thing.

Too bad how Card turned out. I loved many of his books and stories in the 70s and 80s. I won’t read anything else by him until and unless he recants his position on LGBTQ rights.

If you enjoy Card despite his odious views, that’s fine. I’m not judging you. My position on Card costs me nothing, and therefore I don’t claim moral high ground for it. Plenty of books for me to read by people who aren’t raging homophobic psychos.

I found Neal Stephenson’s big historical trilogy unreadable. I pushed through the first volume, got 100 pages into the second volume, and said OK, that’s enough. And I’ve been afraid to read any Stephenson since. On the other hand, I loved “Snow Crash,” “Cryptonomicon,” and “The Diamond Age.” I really need to give his later books another try.

“Instead of trying to ‘fix’ me, my mom protected me from her homophobic boyfriend.”

Inspiring story by Clay Cane at the Washington Post about how his mother protected him when he was a little boy who liked girl things:

Growing up, I worshiped all things “girly.” Today, children who self-express in that way might be politely, clinically described as “gender nonconforming.” But in the ’80s, the words you were more likely to hear were “soft,” “sissy,” “punk” and, of course, the ubiquitous homophobic slur “f–––––.” That’s the put-down that was first said — shouted, actually — to my face when I was 7 years old. It hurt.

There was nothing my mom, or any mother, could have done to prevent the experience — if you’re openly gay, it almost always happens eventually — but what she did before and after took some of the sting out.

He says he loved Star Wars but rewrote it in his mind so Princess Leia was the hero. That shouldn’t even be labeled “gender nonconforming.” Why shouldn’t Princess Leia be the hero?