Archive for November, 2012

Structural Racism

November 17, 2012

I think there are 3 kinds of racism: 1. bigoted racism, 2. everyday racism, 3. structural racism.

Bigoted racism is the most obvious, by that term I mean any actual dislike or hatred of another race.

Everyday racism is what we run into in our lives and work. When a person implicitly makes any kind of assumption about the nature or ability of another. Or arbitrary ceilings (“we can have a black VP but not a black CEO”).

Structural racism, I’m not sure if I’ve come up with the right word for it, but I mean a kind of prejudice that is a result of another closely held belief. For example..

Belief 1: “I’m afraid of things changing”… “I’m afraid of christians becoming a minority”… “I think abortion should be illegal”

These are benign beliefs, I just happen to think that in a way they’re kind of racist. For example, if you’re asking the government to legislate for everyone on behalf of your emotional values that not everybody shares.

Belief 2: “I made this money, so I earned it”… “Let us do our thing, and you do yours”

The first issue with the above is that it fails to recognize that one may have disproportionately benefited from a system that assigns rewards f(x) to effort x. That is a kind of willful acceptance of inequity. I have a bolder claim – namely, that the holder of Belief 2 likely does not place a significant monetary value on diversity.

An easy way to see this connection, is at the level of an entire state. Consider the issue of “states rights”. Why might people be against a big federal government? The basic reason is that the larger the federal government is, the more heavily rich states subsidize poor states.

What’s the incremental effect of adding a new state (Puerto Rico) to theĀ union? Puerto Rico would immediately become, by far, the poorest state per capita; meanwhile, huge investment would be necessary to bring the basic infrastructure of the island up to par with the rest of the United States. The additional tax revenue would not cover the cost, so it would be a drag on the economy.

Why might you nevertheless be in favor of the annexation of Puerto Rico? The essential reason is that you place a real monetary value on the incremental diversity, which pays for the short term cost.

As I think how to summarize my above thoughts, it begins to sound obvious to me. Namely, that many natural and common beliefs are really forms of segregationism, which is implicitly related to racism. The fear of that which is different from one’s own. OK, maybe racism is a strong word to assign to “anything that’s not inclusionism”. Still, I have no doubt at least, that inclusionism is a virtue.

I find these “structural racisms” to be sort of dangerous. In the case of everyday racism, I might quickly realize that I have been biased against a minority, perhaps due to lack of experience with people from that group. With structural racism, there is a step in between the error of belief, and the prejudice. The prejudice is a result of the inherent structure of beliefs, not a direct consequence of them.

I don’t mean dangerous as a strong negative here – I don’t really know how to pass judgment at all… I just think that this is what it is. We certainly should be inclusive of people who have all the natural beliefs, including the exclusionary beliefs.

I enjoyed this video:
(It’s about racism but not related to my comments here.)


Lulu told me to write a blog

November 14, 2012

I should try to record a couple of my thoughts each day, I might make this private though.

I suspect neuroticism (the big 5 component) is just a variable that fundamentally arises when you analyze personality survey questions: “does the person feel subversive towards tests like this?” It’s the only dimension out of the 5 that doesn’t map to myers briggs, and it’s the one that’s hardest to find correlations with (among everyday behaviors of people).

I owned FB 25 strike Jan14 calls going into today

When the intuitive relationships between things are apparent or visible, they are usually describable. Computational complexity theory and the theory of natural selection play a similar role in my life, although I have less to say about the latter. And yet I have no hole in my mind when it comes to theoretical physics (although it is a topic that intellectually interests me). Why? Is it because I have no intuition as well? Maybe because I differently threshold the degree at which I allow things to be true.

Lulu is reading my old 9th grade copy of A Room of One’s Own, which I horrendously annotated. I wonder if that is related or unrelated to her suggestion that I write my thoughts down.

Does NFLX’s ranking algorithm still mainly try to predict how many stars you will rate each movie? Not sure, but if so that doesn’t seem so great; you may correctly do so but it’s an operation with no intent to the overall experience of the user.

I like the new business direction of JCP in certain logical ways (although I don’t think they have satisfactorily answered the long-term margins question), but I don’t particularly like their new branding. E.g. I think the new logo tries to own more, but succeeds in owning less. I looked at the numbers and there’s no real evidence that new shops sustainable outperform old shops, although the new approach may still be superior for various reasons.

The republicans are hoping to scare everybody about the fiscal cliff (which is more of a slope than a cliff). If they do so then maybe the market will threaten to crash on obama not compromising and obama will then be forced to compromise to prevent a panic. It’s not going to work here though.

I think momentum signals in stocks are like the golden ratio, they need context. Just like anything describable with a polynomial will have some fibonacci effect, anything describable by a differential equation will have some momentum effects.

It feels private to me to explain my ideas in too much detail, and it feels routine to me to have many ideas. To merely list a few thoughts and ideas as I have them is fairly uninteresting, I suppose. I obviously should write longer form content, but to some specific end.