Saturday, October 14, 2017

Immigrants and Sanitation

Telling the truth is now a punishable offense in some parts of the United States. At least it is in Hamtramck, one of two tiny cities nestled in the bosom of Detroit, Michigan. Hamtramck councilman, Ian Perrotta found that out the hard way after making comments that although may have been truthful, were found to be insulting. From the Detroit Free Press:

Earlier this month, Perrotta had told WWJ 950 AM there was an issue with trash and some immigrants. About 44% of Hamtramck residents are immigrants, the highest percentage of any city in Michigan. Many are from Yemen or Bangladesh. 
"There is an issue with trash in Hamtramck,” Perrotta told the radio station. “I think some of it comes from the fact that some of our immigrant population comes from areas where regular trash collection and sanitation is not available, or not a priority.”
“The previous iterations of the immigrant population were more Europeans who maybe came from places that had similar methods of sanitation,” Perrotta said to WWJ. “The current wave of immigrants is primarily from Yemen and Bangladesh.”


Nobody bothered to assess whether or not Perrotta's theory was valid. He said things that some community members didn't like. He also had the temerity to suggest that Western culture carried a bit of an advantage over the cultures of Bangladesh and Yemen. We know that's a huge no-no.

A resolution introduced by Councilman Miah read: "Councilman Perrotta’s bigoted comments relied upon and furthered harmful and hurtful stereotypes about European and Western cultural superiority over many of the immigrant cultures represented by members of this Council and the broader community."
It said: "Councilman Perrotta’s bigoted comments brought disrepute upon this body, held up members of this community and the city itself for ridicule and scorn, are demonstrably false, and have no place in civil public discourse."
All cultures are equal, right? It's bigoted to even think that Western culture is superior to others. It's also forbidden to ask why so many people immigrate to the US from other cultures if US culture is equal to the one they left.

Maybe I'm just slow, but I'm still waiting for the demonstration of the falseness of Perrotta's comments, which must be false since I assume, a majority of the Hamtramck city council and Hamtramck residents agree that it's false. If that doesn't make it "demonstrably false" I don't know what does. 

However, according to this article about cleaning up Bangladesh's slums: 

Gazipur has an estimated population of 3.5 million living in 329 square kilometers. Currently, Gazipur has weak legislation or no formal garbage management system to deal with the huge amount of rubbish and garbage produced by industries and households. The area lacks a waste disposal site to cope with the 150 tonnes of rubbish produced daily. No garbage management system operates to clear away household or community waste. Failure to regularly clean outside drains results in the overflow of fluid, making pathways slippery and difficult to move on. Disease from contaminated water is common and particularly acute during the rainy season. Common affilications include diarrhea, respiratory infections such as coughs and colds, skin diseases, and infections impacting the kidneys and liver.
“We used to throw garbage here and there, in a nearby puddle. As a result, the whole locality had a stench, and was full of mosquitoes and flies. A neighbor of ours, Kusum Ali — 9 to 10 members of his family were continual diarrhea patients throughout the year,” said Rokeya Begum from Dakshin Tetultola.
Yes, they are trying to improve things, but that doesn't change the fact that sanitation services in Bangladesh are not quite as efficient as those in the United States. Hamtramck council members are shutting down the truth.

Meanwhile, in war-torn Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East:

Hardly a paragon of waste management before the war, Sanaa was at least able to separate out the most dangerous materials from the 10-million-ton hill thanks to a nearby treatment plant.
No longer. The facility was bombed by a Saudi-led military coalition battling the armed Houthi movement which controls the capital in June of last year and again last December.
Now vast stinking pools created in part by untreated medical waste accumulate at the pile’s base, threatening to contaminate the water supply for the parched city which experts have long predicted will be the first capital to use up all its water.
Nope, nothing here that might suggest that Yemen's waste management is any different than that of any big US city. CAIR (unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing trial), of course, jumped right in. There are some truths that they will not tolerate and are "demonstrably false" because they say so. No actual demonstration is necessary.

Lesson: be careful what you say. Some people find comforting lies more satisfying than an unpleasant truth.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Why 2,000 Detroit 9th-graders just got free cell phones

Yes, it's true. 2,000 Detroit ninth graders were given free cell phones from Sprint. Why? To improve their education of course.

According to the article, the poverty rate in the Detroit School District is about 80%. Also, according to the article, some students have phones, including iphones. Some students at first refused the phones until they got a look at them. They must be might fancy phones. Not as fancy as an iphone, but they do have a "hot spot", so as we are reminded more than once, students can now do their homework.

Maybe it's because I've been losing my critical thinking faculties over the years, but I don't see the connection. Khan Academy or not, why would teachers in a district with an 80% poverty rate give homework that requires internet access? Especially if these poverty-stricken students only have iphones and can't access the web?

Oh, they're going to close the "digital divide." Students might not be able to read, but they will have internet access in order to do their homework. And we know they will pay attention to the caveats:

The phones come with some sober advice about using the device responsibly, contained in a set of information given to each student. Don't use it in class, unless the teacher says it's OK or there's an emergency, they're told.
Don't use it to bully or be mean to anyone. Don't use it while driving. Don't share personal information online like Social Security numbers, addresses or phone numbers.
And speaking of sharing, the students are told to be cautious when sharing and posting information online.
"Remember, the Internet does not forget!" 
The Internet might not forget, but students might forget to do their homework after spending their evenings on social media.