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Flint's Tragedy and the Distrust of Tap Water

The slow moving tragedy that the city of Flint, MI has experienced in the last year, and which has exploded in the media only recently, provides many opportunities for criticizing political and technical authorities, who have massively failed their constituents and customers. The priority in this situation should be the unconditional support for the people of Flint, and particularly their children, both by providing safe water and remedial care and other forms of aid to fight the consequences of the continued ingestion of water with heavy concentrations of lead.

Rossman's Simulation in R

I really enjoyed reading Gabriel Rossman’s recent article “The Diffusion of the Legitimate and the Diffusion of Legitimacy” in Sociological Science. It is a great example of the use of simulations in social theory. In the article, Rossman argues that the way in which an innovation will diffuse depends on its categorical legitimacy. That is, if an innovation takes place in a new category which is not legitimate yet, people will not just adopt it once they become aware of it.

Maps in R

I have spent quite a lot of time lately learning to use the R programming language for my work. Mainly I use it to perform statistical analyses, and I have to say that I am quickly falling in love with it. I had limited experience using Stata during grad school, and I never really liked it very much. But I have learned some Python and even C++ in the past, and since R is a full programming language its use is much more familiar and intuitive to me.

What Are Linux and Free Software?

This is a piece that I wrote a few months ago at the request of a friend, and which I had already published in a previous incarnation of this site. It is still work in progress and poorly edited, and so it is full of typos and grammatical errors. But I think it is better to have it out there in its current form than keeping it in my hard drive until I have time to get back to it:

The Marxist Question

Although things seem to have changed slightly since the beginning of the Great Recession (Lesser Depression?) in 2008, the term ‘marxist’ is still mostly used as a pejorative epithet (you only have to google ‘obama marxist’ for a collection of illustrative examples). The baggage of 20th century history that Marx has to carry is hard to ignore, no matter how much his followers insist that the communism that Marx envisioned had nothing to do with the atrocities that plagued Eastern Europe.