Quick hits (part II)

Sorry these are a little late today.  Spent more time than anticipated watching the terrific Notre Dame vs. Florida State game last night.

1) Really interesting Vanity Fair article that give an account on this Ebola outbreak– unlike all the others- became an epidemic.

2) On a somewhat related note, a FB friend shared this story from last year of how an extremely dangerous bacteria was nearly impossible for the NIH to eradicate from it’s research hospital.  With plenty of scary stuff about the future of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

3) Heck, let’s stick with a theme.  Here’s a Yahoo! story about a robot that uses ultraviolet light to disinfect rooms (the CDC used a robot that filled rooms with hydrogen peroxide gas).

4) Alright, let’s just keep going here.  James Surowiecki putting everything in perspective and reminding us we should be way more scared of the annual flu.

5) A Tennessee woman involved in manufacturing meth got 6 years added to her sentence for being pregnant at the time.  Hmmm, that just doesn’t seem right in a variety of ways.

6) We could use better data on charter schools.

7) True tales from the making of Princess Bride.  Much to my dismay, my 8-year old son refused to like it because of the title.  My almost 4 daughter liked it even though it was over her head.

8) Teenagers should so not be interrogated without a parent or a lawyer.  It is a legal travesty that this happens all the time.  I’ve told David never to talk to the police without a parent.  Never.

9) Garrett Epps on the “undue burden” standard from Casey and how courts are increasingly ignoring it.

10) Republican Congressmen are intent on cutting NSF funding based solely on the title of research.

11) How modern pork production is bad for pigs and not so good for workers, either.

12) NYT Magazine feature on how billionaires are becoming their own political parties.

Americans getting smarter about drugs and sentencing

A recent Wonkblog post highlights American’s changing (much for the better) views on mandatory minimum sentencing with polls from Pew:

pew

and Reason:

drug

Kind of sad that with that kind of bipartisan support these stupid laws still exist.  Clearly, we need more political leadership on this issue.

Anyway, somehow I had not been aware of this great Pew report from earlier this year.  There’s also encouraging signs that Americans understand the relative risks of alcohol vs. marijuana:

Alcohol Seen as Bigger Danger than Marijuana

And good to see strong support for treating, rather than prosecuting, drug users:

Public Wants Government Drug Policy to Focus More on Providing Treatment

I was also intrigued by just how serious a drug problem people thought we had.  Short version: young people just don’t see this as big a problem as everyone else:

Young People Less Likely to View Drug Abuse as a Crisis Nationally, as a Serious Problem Locally

Also interesting that people are much more concerned with drug abuse in the country despite seeing the problem as much smaller in their own neighborhood.  (Kind of like, everybody rates their own neighborhood schools much higher but thinks the nations schools are a problem.).

Anyway, the take away for me is that with public opinion evolving on the issue that there is some real hope to more sanity in our drug laws.

Quick hits

1) The zeppelins of WWI

Although the zeppelin was embraced by both the Germans and the Allies during World War I, the Germans made far more extensive use of the rigid, hydrogen-filled airships. The concept of “strategic bombing”—targeted airstrikes on a particular location—didn’t exist before the conflict. The advent of aerial warfare changed that, and also robbed the British of the protection afforded by the English Channel. The zeppelin allowed Germany to bring the war to the English homeland. Kind of.

2) Parenting as a Gen-Xer:

It struck me recently, after one of my quiet carpool rides, that my generation of parents – we of the soon-to-be or recently 40 year old Gen X variety, the former latchkey children of the Cold War and an MTV that actually played videos, former Atari-owners who were raised by the the Cosby Show and John Hughes, graduated high school with the kids from 90210, then lumbered through our 20s with Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey and flip phones – is perhaps the last to straddle a life experience both with and without the Internet and all its social media marvels.

3) EJ Dionne on NC politics.  And a WSJ piece on how NC politics increasingly resemble those of Virginia.

4) Eating octopus?  No thanks.

5) Jon Chait with an interesting essay on the value of playing football.

6) Are Alabama Judge Tom Parker’s ideas the key to dismantling Roe v. Wade?  I suspect not, but it is disturbing to think about somebody with his ideas (forget the Constitution– the real version– it’s all about God– Parker’s version) serving as a judge.

7) Maria Konnikova on social media and the Dunbar number

Dunbar did the math, using a ratio of neocortical volume to total brain volume and mean group size, and came up with a number. Judging from the size of an average human brain, the number of people the average person could have in her social group was a hundred and fifty. Anything beyond that would be too complicated to handle at optimal processing levels. For the last twenty-two years, Dunbar has been “unpacking and exploring” what that number actually means—and whether our ever-expanding social networks have done anything to change it.

8) Nice post from Mike Cobb on how to have a healthy skepticism towards non-attitudes reported as attitudes on surveys.

9) Really nice piece from John Dickerson about Matt Bai’s new book, the media, and political scandal.

10) Jon Chait decries California’s new “yes means yes” approach to sexual assault.  Ezra Klein writes easily the most interesting commentary (supportive of the law) I’ve read on the matter.

11) A look at the great impact exercise can have on a child’s brain.  The results are great, but, there’s this:

Each two-hour session also included downtime, since children naturally career about and then collapse, before repeating the process. In total, the boys and girls generally moved at a moderate or vigorous intensity for about 70 minutes and covered more than two miles per session, according to their pedometers.

That doesn’t strike me as remotely scalable.  I’d love to see some efforts along these lines of an exercise program for kids with less time commitment.

12) Vox on why the LED light was worth the Nobel Prize.  (For what it’s worth, I remember reading many years ago how a white LED light was a holy grail).

13) NYT Magazine on how school lunches have become a political battleground.  Personally, I think everybody needs to give pizza more respect.  My middle and high schools all offered pizza as a lunch entree every day.  That’s how it should be.

14) You probably don’t know that much about giraffes.  You should.

15) A sixteen year old spent three years in jail for allegedly stealing a backpack before the charges were dropped.  Just another day (or three years) of criminal justice in America (at least if you are poor).

The war on Okra

Great post on our mis-guided War on Drugs at wonkblog:

Georgia police raided a retired Atlanta man’s garden last Wednesday after a helicopter crew with the Governor’s Task Force for Drug Suppressionspotted suspicious-looking plants on the man’s property. A heavily-armed K9 unit arrived and discovered that the plants were, in fact, okra bushes…

Georgia state patrol told WSB-TV in Atlanta that “we’ve not been able to identify it as of yet. But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant.”

Indeed! Like cannabis, okra is green and it has leaves.

Okra busts like these are good reason for taxpayers to be skeptical about the wisdom of sending guys up in helicopters to fly around aimlessly, looking for drugs in suburban gardens. And that’s not to mention the issue of whether we want a society where heavily-armed cops can burst into your property, with no grounds for suspicion beyond what somebody thought he saw from several hundred yards up in a helicopter. [emphasis mine]

Even better news– this is largely being funded by the money police often steal via civil forfeiture.  It is so beyond time to end the war on drugs and put our resources to productive work that does not abuse our citizens.

Quick hits (part II)

1) In further asymmetry, you are just not going to find any Democrats as crazy left as these Republicans are crazy right.  And they are about to be elected to Congress.

2) John Judis‘ and Jamelle Bouie’s takes on Brownback and the Kansas GOP experiment run amok.

3) Exercise if great for your brain.  Especially if you’ve got ADHD.  And now we’ve got cool brain images to show it.

4) There are not enough female Republican officeholders because there are few Republican women in the pool of possible candidates.

5) Nice Vox piece on our over-reaction to ISIS.

6) You probably won’t be surprised to see this Reason post about Iowa state troopers stealing $100,000 in legal poker winnings.

7) I’m shocked, shocked that the anti-environmentalists put in charge of the NC environment have not taken the coal ash spill seriously.

8) The demands that the IOC makes on potential Olympic host cities are pretty amusing.

9) I didn’t know about “efficiency wages.”  And now I do.  Nice explanation for why not everyone can work at Costco.

10) Gotta love that the “Republicans are people too” campaign is all based on stock photos.

11) Nice Ruth Marcus column on the 5th Circuit decision on Texas’ abortion laws.  What never ceases to amaze me is the way judges pretend that the purpose of TRAP laws is to protect women’s health as opposed to shut-down abortion clinics.

12) Great example of campaign media just getting it all wrong (regarding chickens and the Iowa Senate race).  And speaking of chickens, love this Vox piece on our ever larger chickens:

Giant chickens with dates

 

 

 

 

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) A reminder from Jonathan Ladd that, joking aside, this Secret Service fiasco is serious stuff.

2) A nice list of ten things that would improve our food system far more than labeling GMO’s (I bet I could come up with more than 10).

3) Vox on how college are doing diversity all wrong:

The key here is this: colleges need to get more specific about who they want to help, and why. Universities’ commitment to “diversity”  is important, but it’s a poor substitute for a policy of equal access for the disadvantaged because “diverse” students and disadvantaged students are not necessarily one and the same. Several studies have shown that beneficiaries of diversity-based admissions policies typically hail from the most well-educated and economically successful segments of “diverse” communities. That’s why a diversity strategy will not help universities reclaim their mission of fostering socio-economic mobility.

4) Jeffrey Toobin on the Hobby Lobby legacy (Ginsburg was right).

5) A woman leaves her 7-year old home alone under very safe circumstances and writes about it.  Everybody freaks out.  I’m with her.

6) A Federal Appeals court decided that Texas’ new abortion law does present an “undue burden” to women’s Constitutional right to abortion because 1/6 is not a “large fraction” of women.  Nuts!

7) Clay Shirky, famed professor of “New Media” is banning laptops in his classes.  And based on the scientific evidence, he is definitely right to do so.  I started with this policy this semester.  The post nicely lays out the rationale.

8) Thanks to Mike for sharing this awesome link about “good old days” syndrome.

9) Vox interviews Matt Bai on politicians, their affairs, and media coverage and how Gary Rice changed it all.  Really fascinating stuff.

10) The head of the Oklahoma highway patrol suggests that women who want to avoid being sexually assaulted by the Oklahoma highway patrol need to make sure they obey the law.  Seriously.

11) Brazil’s lessons for us (and Hillary Clinton) on what doesn’t work for dealing with inequality.

12) Very nice Dave Roberts piece on polarization (and it’s asymmetry).

13) Yes, a Florida police officer did taser a woman in the back as she walked away from him.  And it’s on video.  And he’s currently on paid leave.

14) The gender politics of pockets (the new Iphone is too damn big).

15) Seriously, we need to get about everybody who is not planning on having a baby anytime soon on a LARC.

Thank God for dashboard cams

This cop is in jail and rightfully charged with a serious crime.  Who honestly thinks he wouldn’t still be out patrolling and doing heaven knows what else if he didn’t have a dashboard cam.

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