8/25/20 Power Five

  1. How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering – Highly recommend…an amazing look at the legacy of redlining and the very real and unhealthy consequences felt today.
  1. America’s Terrible Internet is Making Quarantine Worse – “At 8:03, only eight of the 24 students had logged on, despite the fact that Anderson’s “classroom expectations” sheet requested that everyone “log in to class on time and prepared every day.” It might not have been the kids’ fault. Many students are poor in this rural chunk of the Sacramento Valley. The school ordered Wi-Fi hotspots for the students, but they won’t be available until August 22. In a class Anderson taught that afternoon, one boy’s video kept freezing from a slow connection. At the high point during the class I observed, 20 of 24 students had joined the Zoom session, which, Anderson told me later, is “better than expected.”
  1. 100 Things I Learned in 10 Years and 100 Reads of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations – One of the foundational texts of Stoicism, Meditations is one of the books I give and recommend the most.
  1. Black Homeowners Face Discrimination In Appraisals

The Hortons live just minutes from the Ortega River, in a predominantly white neighborhood of 1950s homes that tend to sell for $350,000 to $550,000. They had expected their home to appraise for around $450,000, but the appraiser felt differently, assigning a value of $330,000. Ms. Horton, who is Black, immediately suspected discrimination.

The couple’s bank agreed that the value was off and ordered a second appraisal. But before the new appraiser could arrive, Ms. Horton, a lawyer, began an experiment: She took all family photos off the mantle. Instead, she hung up a series of oil paintings of Mr. Horton, who is white, and his grandparents that had been in storage. Books by Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison were taken off the shelves, and holiday photo cards sent by friends were edited so that only those showing white families were left on display. On the day of the appraisal, Ms. Horton took the couple’s 6-year-old son on a shopping trip to Target, and left Mr. Horton alone at home to answer the door.

The new appraiser gave their home a value of $465,000 — a more than 40 percent increase from the first appraisal.

  1. Let’s Take Our Brains More Seriously When Learning – “As our smartphones enable us to access more information, we become convinced that we understand more and more about the world. Yet not only do we understand less and less, we also become increasingly shaped and enfeebled by our technology. (We no longer have to be able to distinguish between edible and poisonous plants. We don’t even need to know exactly how to drive across the city without our phones).”