scharrison's blog

Psychological analysis of violent extremism

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Can you recognize this signature?

Across all ideologies investigated by the researchers, people who endorsed “extreme pro-group action”, including ideologically-motivated violence against others, had a surprisingly consistent psychological profile.

The extremist mind – a mixture of conservative and dogmatic psychological signatures – is cognitively cautious, slower at perceptual processing and has a weaker working memory. This is combined with impulsive personality traits that seek sensation and risky experiences.

The first thing that crossed my mind is somebody who misses the funniest part of a joke, or wildly misinterprets the joke. I must admit I often throw something out when I first meet somebody, in an unconscious(?) attempt to gauge their personality. It's a faulty, self-centered approach, because you have no way of knowing what they're dealing with at the time. But it is surprisingly accurate. Here's more on their findings:

21st Century extremism: Tracking the Proud Boys

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Not all heroes wear capes and fly around:

All five Proud Boys on trial this month in the Justice Department’s landmark seditious conspiracy prosecution were in Squire’s original data set. Another member who pleaded guilty and is expected to testify previously filmed himself railing against Squire on social media, and posted her private information on Telegram in retaliation for her research.

After years of observing Proud Boys act as if they’re above the law, Squire said, the trial offers the promise of long-awaited accountability. “This is where you end up when you’re in this movement. It’s not going to end well,” she said. “To use their own favorite expression: You eff around, and you find out.”

Yanno, folks on the right like to throw the word "Patriot" around to sauce up their gun fetishism, but Megan is what I consider a true patriot. Using her skills to protect the wider public from unhinged and dangerous people, even though she knows that comes with a serious risk:

Duke Energy's contempt for Solar is irresponsible

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The deep freeze on Christmas weekend exposed major flaws in their approach:

The first domino fell in Duke Energy Carolinas territory, which serves 2.5 million residential, commercial and industrial customers. Starting at midnight on Christmas Eve, utility officials cut back power at the Dan River combined cycle plant, which runs largely on natural gas, to 360 MW, roughly half of its capacity, said Sam Holeman, vice president of transmission. (This is also known as derating.) Some of the plant’s instrumentation had frozen, and to prevent the facility from failing altogether, operators had to reduce the strain. The Buck plant in Salisbury encountered low pressure issues and had to be derated after peak energy usage had passed.

Solar energy “performed as expected,” Duke officials said, although it was not available overnight during the peak hours of 2 to 6 a.m.

It could have been available to ease that burden if Duke had dedicated more resources to battery storage in NC:

Partisan "news" outlets will not save local journalism

The loss of objectivity cannot be reclaimed:

The North Shore Leader wrote in September, when few others were covering Santos, about his “inexplicable rise” in reported net worth, from essentially nothing in 2020 to as much as $11 million two years later.

The story noted other oddities about the self-described gay Trump supporter with Jewish heritage, who would go on to flip New York’s 3rd Congressional District from blue to red, and is now under investigation by authorities for misrepresenting his background to voters.

Theoretically speaking, such coverage within the District itself, should have provided voters the information they need to make a sound decision. But there's a problem: the paper in question has a solidly conservative bent, which means two things: Their "loyal" readership leans so heavily Republican that those revelations fell on deaf ears, and that obvious lack of objectivity made it much less likely their reporting would attract the attention of state-level (or national) news outlets that would have reached all the voters in the District. Here's more on what their loyal readers chose to ignore:

Hump-Day Handouts

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NC's energy future is being decided right now:

Governor Roy Cooper and Republican state lawmakers made a historic deal last year to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power generation by 70 percent by 2030 and all the way to carbon neutral by 2050. They left the details of how to get there up to the state utilities commission. We’re expecting to see their final decision this week.

Currently, North Carolina is dependent on coal, natural gas and nuclear power for our electricity. The Carbon plan will set out the rules for Duke Energy for moving to greener energy sources like solar, wind and battery storage. As it shuts down its coal fired plants, Duke wants to build more natural gas plants. It says they’re needed for reliable baseload power generation. Critics say more gas plants are not needed. They say battery storage for wind and solar can serve that need.

Couple things to consider: Solar is scalable and dispersed, meaning you can locate farms in areas that are far away from big generation facilities and save a ton of juice that gets lost in transmission (like 17% in some areas). These recent rolling blackouts would not have been necessary, at least not as widespread as they were. Speaking of brownouts, our former Liar-In-Chief has left a legacy in his wake:

Shake-ups hit NCDP after dismal election results

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Hopefully some energetic and savvy folks will step up:

North Carolina Democrats were optimistic about their chances in the midterm elections. But following disappointing results, party insiders are dwelling on missed opportunities, and a party shake-up is underway. Meredith Cuomo, who had served as the North Carolina Democratic Party’s executive director since 2019, said Saturday in an email to party officials that she had stepped down from the state party’s top staff position. She moved into an advisory role on Dec. 1.

Digital Director Lillian Taylor is serving as state party’s interim executive director while the party searches for a permanent director. The party also announced that it was laying off nine staff members due to financial constraints, a move that’s not uncommon in the wake of elections.

Does this mean the incessant fundraising e-mails might be approaching abatement? Just kidding. But seriously. As far as recruiting new candidates (if you have trouble taking a hint, that was me emphasizing what I view as the most critical reform we need), some good ideas are percolating:

Snapshot of Arlington's "Missing Middle" study

Beginning with the definition of such:

"Missing Middle” is a term that refers to the range of housing types that fit between single-family detached homes and mid-to-high-rise apartment buildings. Used in this context, “middle” references the size and type of a home, and its relative location – in the middle – on a spectrum of housing types. These housing types are commonly house-scaled buildings, yet with more than one unit. Examples include duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, and others that will be discussed in this report. The cost of these housing types varies based on style, size, location, and market forces. Missing Middle (MM) housing types do not always correlate with a specific income bracket but can be less expensive than other housing options that are larger and take up more land.

It is somewhat inaccurate to equate "missing middle" with middle-class housing (as I have done a few times), but the correlation with median income is not too far off the mark. Understand, much of this study involves "taking the pulse" of existing community members, and you will see a lot of common complaints (traffic, overcrowded schools, loss of green space and canopy). I won't say these are not legitimate complaints, but I will say that many citizens use them as a crutch when they are really concerned about "those people" moving in. Here are the main choices Arlington found to increase the missing middle:

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