Archive for Michigan

Flint State

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2016 by rgwallace

Flint1At Kent State, eight years ago, we killed our own children. We finally went ahead and made plain the substance of our hanging threat to all the lives of our children. If you do not do as we have done, if you do not continue what we do, we who have brought you here, we will take you out; we who feed and clothe you and teach you the words that you use, the name that is your name, we will destroy you even unto death. –June Jordan (1978)

The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, offers a quintessential example of the social origins of our abiotic environments. Our sociality imprints upon even the most elemental of Earth’s matter.

Following up resident complaints about discoloration, taste, and smell, Virginia Tech researchers tested 271 Flint homes for lead in their tap water. From 27 parts per billion, five times greater than concentrations considered safe, an exposure leading to cardiovasular problems, kidney damage and neurological morbidity, the investigators found lead levels as high as over 5,000 pbb, a level the Environmental Protection Agency defines as “toxic waste”.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Silver Standard

Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , on March 9, 2016 by rgwallace

Ministry of InformationDid Secretary of Fracking Hillary Clinton lose Michigan in part because she supports the economic model that poisons water at home and abroad? Maybe. The connection struck me (as I learned later it had others).

But Bernie Sanders’s primary upset in Michigan, busting many a prediction, including FiveThirtyEight’s pooled polling model, clearly unveiled loaded epistemologies.

A number of oppositional wags–funny but accurate–have characterized polling in the U.S. as testing whether voters have adequately assimilated ruling class propaganda. That is, at heart all polls are push polls, part and parcel of managing expectation. Until they don’t.

A couple years ago, suffering a case of World Cup fever, I wrote three short paragraphs on Nate Silver, pointing out the Bayesian  on which his shop depends can be saddled with the premises of power, a problem far beyond mere technical disagreements.

The politics of the nomenklatura–rolling over systemic prime directives one time interval to another in the face of what it dismisses as stochastic noise–can be found down in the very mechanics of statistical modeling.

But what happens when the rest of the world begins to make itself matter? Do the models break down from more than just bad priors and missed predictions?