Category: good stuff

Trash, White Trash, and REAL Trash

Writing in Oxford American, Chris Offutt’s Trash Food almost gets it right:

My thoughts and feelings were completely irrational. I knew they made no sense. Most of what I owned had belonged to someone else—cars, clothes, shoes, furniture, dishware, cookbooks. I liked old and battered things. They reminded me of myself, still capable and functioning despite the wear and tear.

and

Nevertheless I’d felt compelled to mislead him [my Oxford friend] based on class stigma. I was ashamed—of my fifteen-year-old Mazda, my income, and my rented home. I felt ashamed of the very clothes I was wearing, the shoes on my feet. Abruptly, with the force of being struck in the face, I understood it wasn’t his judgment I feared. It was my own.

The road to getting over this is simple:  stop worrying about what other folks think and trust your own judgement.  Only a fool yuppie pays full price for goods that rapidly depreciate.  Tricks like eschewing $75 shirts and shopping at the resale store, the day-old bread store, and the discount market where no English is spoken have netted me enough cash to buy a gently-used BMW Z4.  OUTRIGHT. That car is now 12 years old, squeaky clean, well-maintained, and payment-free.

Offutt worries about the kind of folks labeled “white trash”

The term “white trash” is an epithet of bigotry that equates human worth with garbage. It implies a dismissal of the group as stupid, violent, lazy, and untrustworthy—the same negative descriptors of racial minorities, of anyone outside of the mainstream. At every stage of American history, various groups of people have endured such personal attacks. Language is used as a weapon: divisive, cruel, enciphered. Today is no different.

BUT, he needs to remember that there are plenty of folks who we white trash label as real trash: stupid, violent, lazy, and untrustworthy for starters,, But also whining, wheedling drug-addled grifters.  By their unkempt surroundings, undisciplined pets, garish grooming, tats, cigarettes, and pawnshop jewelry you will know them.

The sin of the white elites is their failure to make distinctions.  The racial stereotyping they so decry is exactly what they apply to working class whites.  Offutt, to his credit, knows how to deal with these smartasses:

When strangers thought I was stupid because of where I grew up, I understood that they were granting me the high ground. I learned to patiently wait in ambush for the chance to utterly demolish them intellectually. Later I realized that this particular battle strategy was a waste of energy. It was easier to simply stop talking to that person—forever.

Trash Food is good food for thought, go read the whole thing.

Tip from Vanderleun at American Digest, where he dishes some real pearls.

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Data to Viz

For data analysts using R, this is huge.  Find out how to generate the graph you need for the data you have with just a few clicks.

DataViz_poster_medium

Yes, you’ll find some fine print explaining that the site is not comprehensive.  BUT, it still has a trove of graph types and accompanying R and python code to generate them.

Tip from the R Bloggers

Update: from the O’Reilly Data Science Newsletter, I learn that the Data to Viz site has a CAVEATS page, showing many of the most common “worst practices” of data visualization, whether confusing, misleading, or downright deceptive.

Data-to-Viz-Simpsons

I’m not quite sure, though, why the site displays only 7 examples when I select the Top 10 filter ….

Making America GLAMOROUS Again

Since Christmas, the oh-so-woke fashion and lifestyle press has aggressively ignored first lady Melania Trump.  Unlike her husband, she doesn’t bluster, tweet, or speechify; instead she speaks in the language of fashion.  For French President Macron’s state visit, she wore this:

ThatHat

Impossible to be ignored. The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan writes

On these official occasions, the first lady sometimes appears to be dressing for a fashion-shoot version of the event — a kind of heightened reality of an already rather surreal circumstance. But there is also the sense that she is stubbornly and confidently dressing up and refusing to relax into today’s accepted decorum. The result is that she sometimes seems to have a tin ear for empathetic dressing. And sometimes, she wears a hat, which, for women, long ago ceased being about fashion in this country and became more of an affectation, whether it be the religiosity of Sunday church service or the self-conscious flamboyance of the Kentucky Derby.

A hat is a celebration of oneself. It is about presenting one’s most adorned, spit-shined, upright self to God, social media or, in this case, the history books.

“Empathetic dressing?”  What kind of woke bullshit is that?  “Today’s accepted decorum” is sweatpants or basketball jerseys at a wedding reception, t-shirts at a funeral, and airheads in phony ripped jeans; grown men don’t even own a suit to be buried in.  Melania Trump reminds us that sometimes clothes do make the man; that we can be our very best selves.

The best part? “Taxpayers do not pay for the first lady’s wardrobe.”

Need a 3-Way?

One of my techno-nerdy students got me hip to the Logitech Anywhere2 wireless mouse.  It can be linked with a dedicated USB device AND paired with Bluetooth-capable devices.

MXAnywhere2
It’s button #7 – switch devices!

So now my old Windows desktop computer, my Surface laptop, AND my old Surface tablet can be clicked with a single mouse.

mx-anywhere-2s-3-computers
Just like my desk, only less cluttered

How cool (and handy) is that?