Housing crisis? Really?

More and more in the news about the feculent mess our mortgage system
is in. Housing is too costly & too scarce. Empty houses are hanging
very heavy on bankers’ hands. Office buildings stand vacant for years.
Oh dear.

Hmm.. How about making those vacant spaces available to the homeless?
In return for a little maintenance & hygeine, plus paying for whatever
water & electricity they use, you could have a huge impact on the most
vulnerable poor. Think of all the women, kids, even men who could get
enough peace, safety and stability to get back on their feet & back
into the economic life.

You could also keep empty homes from turning into eyesores. I know
quite a few squatters in organized squats, some of them there with the
owners’ knowledge, and they have had a significant effect on one or
two rotting neighborhoods because they simply won’t let their squat
rot, and they won’t let the real trash take over. It definitely keeps
the tone from getting worse & it keeps the drugs & violence down. I
guess squatters can be kinda scary — they are sure protective of
their squats.

When the place becomes rented or sold, they have to move, but should
get 30 days’ notice. Seems fair in return for how much money & trouble
they’ve saved!

A landowning friend of mine said squatters moved in, crapped on the
new carpet, tore up the repainted walls, and so forth. In my ideal
world, those squatters would be blacklisted & left to homeless
shelters. Squatters who decide to use your space should have basic
standards, and if they have some living-security in exchange,
should be ready & willing to take basic care of the place. Not that
you won’t want to bring in cleaners afterwards, but that costs
much less than re-refitting the whole interior!

In Egypt, they had boabs (two syllables: bo-ab) who lived in building
sites or abandoned residences to keep things from falling apart & keep
thieves and scavengers away. They weren’t paid much but they got free
rent. (Had some living across the street in a half-demolished house
that was tied up in litigation; nice neighbors, helped me with my
Arabic.) Since they were one step away from being on the streets, they
knew the underground and would let the neighbors know if there were
thieves in the neighborhood, if rabies had shown up in the area, or if
the Army was going to come around shooting loose dogs (their idea of
rabies control.)

Makes a lot of sense to me. So the rich neighborhood had a blue-collar
family in their midst — they made us all a little more comfortable,
overall. I’d love to have a “boab community” here!

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Scientific method & infant studies

Further thoughts on this article which revealed, to every parent’s astonishment I’m sure, that babies remember what upsets them and learn to hope for less in the future:
http://www.physorg.com/news201964561.html
My first, suppressed response was a huge internal “WTHF??? Who’d do
that deliberately??”
But I was a nurse for years — I know what people will do deliberately and I won’t go into it here, especially since I just had a tasty breakfast.
My second thought was the one reflecting my training, which tells me that if it isn’t repeated in a number of controlled scientific experiments, it’s not accepted medical knowledge (document, document, document!), and if it’s not accepted scientifically, it won’t be accepted as good parenting practice.
grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… But I digress.
On the one hand, I’m glad that a few OBs might suggest that parents hang onto their infants instead of handling them like awkward, smelly little responsibilities to be managed with as little face-time as possible.
On the other, I find it profoundly, horribly wrong to tell young parents to walk away from their screaming baby and stay there while we stab or slash the kid to get a few blood samples, and then come back again later to do it all again.
Because heaven knows you can’t just watch the painful reality of life unfold naturally. That would require the assumption, antithetical to scientific method’s assumptions, that observation and empathy in a real-world setting (where sometimes kids get put down for real reasons) is a valid basis for drawing conclusions.
I could go on about psychogenic shock, neurological development, early bonding, the isolationist shift in child-rearing advice over 30 years, the current puzzlement among psychologists about the staggering proportion of young adults who are incapable of empathy, the weirdness of the fact that most of the world is toilet-trained by ~2 but here we’re rarely trained by 4… And so on.
But that could take awhile and my iPhone is starting to make my fingertips sting.

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Scientific method: a fragile prop

There’s an unalterable gap between scientific method and basic decency. This is one of several profound deficiencies in the former, like its rigidly Newtonian frame of reference, the circular logic of many fundamental assumptions, and the _unacknowledged_ reflexive trope, “If we don’t understand it, it isn’t real; if we haven’t tested for it, it doesn’t exist.”
How can scientific rigor possibly be equated with intellectual rigor,
when it cherishes this absence of basic intellectual integrity?
The combination of profound & pervasive logical fallacies, combined with a very weak attachment to the human context in which it’ll ultimately be used, make scientific method far too limited to base most of biomedical research on. It would be excellent as one of several methods, since what it does accomplish, it does very well.
For better and worse, though, it’s the “gold standard” of biomedical research. Astonishing. And very scary. It explains an awful lot.
… In related news, the US currency went off the gold standard under Nixon.

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Standards

Driving requires licensure, even though you can only knock off a few people at a time & do maybe half a million dollars worth of damage.
Carrying a gun requires licensure, even though you can shoot only a handful of your work or school’s population before getting taken down.
But what about things that allow you to screw things up for generations? I wonder about how recklessly we leap into things like abusive relationships and electing con artists. (Almost a tautology.)
Without changing existing syllabi (or syllabuses), and with only minor logistical adjustments, it seems promising to institute the following requirements:
* Before voting, passing a 9th-grade civics exam and a course in basic logic & critical thinking. Refreshers required every 4 years, increasing to 6 years after age 35.
* On entering your first sexual relationship, passing an 8th-grade course in effective communication… regardless of how old — or young — both partners are at the time. (Because of the strange nature of some pederasts, this should bring some child-abuse cases to light; a desirable side-effect.)
* Before moving in together, passing high-school level home economics (including hygeine) AND a basic financial management course. Everyone does both. Divide the tasks afterwards if you like.
* Before getting married, passing a course in negotiation & mediation. Also adult versions of safety, hygeine, and personal financial management.
* Before breeding, a 6-month intensive course in parenting (including models from Dr. Spock to Attachment Parenting) and developmental psychology. Also, screening for psychoses and serious personality disorders — not to exclude them (there’s no eliminating these from the gene pool) but to provide pertinent training and prepare appropriate backup and support for nutcase, partner, and child.
Wackos raise some very gifted & capable kids, so excluding them from the parenting pool doesn’t make sense as a social strategy.
But don’t worry, I’m not going to have kids.

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