Quick hits (part II)

1) Parenting habits from around the world that have not caught on in the US.  I love the non paranoia parenting of the Danish and Japanese.

2)  I truly believe the horrible-ness (especially the fundraising) keeps many very good people from running for political office (all the more reason I’m impressed my friend Sarah Crawford is doing it anyway).

3) FIFA is planning on having the women’s World Cup played on artificial turf.  So wrong.  And such an insult to women athletes.

4) Loved this Slate piece on the evolution of the SEC logo (and the bigger story of letters in circle logos).

5) From what I’ve read so far, I find the indictment of Rick Perry utterly ridiculous.  I suspect most of the liberals happy about this have their liberal blinders one.  Within a very wide latitude, politics should not be criminalized.

6) Loved this story on African Wild Dogs (apparently, they are almost the honeybees of the mammal world in terms of their level of social evolution).

7) Among all the wrongness of the Ferguson police, directly attacking the media is about as bad as it gets.

8) Don’t ask your kids what to do.  Tell them what to do.  (Of course, I need to make sure they actually do what I tell them).

9) No, arming the Syrian rebels would not have stopped ISIS.

10) Great Krugman column on the libertarian fantasy.  (Think “Toledo water).;

11) There’s a pretty easy technological solution to dramatically reduce police brutality.  And false charges of police brutality.  Police should wear video cameras.  It has worked great in once city.

12) The Upshot on the rise of pizza.  Hooray– certainly has made my life better.

13) Emily Bazelon on the police and race.

Quick hits (part II)

1) I love the size of my Iphone 4s.  I wouldn’t even want the bigger size of the 5, but I’ll need it if I ever want 4g.  Apparently, I’m in quite the minority– at least on a global level– of preferring a smaller smartphone.  I had known about this fact, but did not realize that it is because for so many Asian users, the smartphone is their only internet-connected screen.

2) College education should not be trade school, for lots of good reasons.

3) A children’s book to teach your child to be overly-worried about stranger abductions.  Just what the modern parent needs.

4) And love this Slate report on how much less freedom today’s children have than their parents.

5) This essay on evolution is so awesome.  Totally deserves it’s own post.  But:

So if someone asks, “Do you believe in evolution,” they are framing it wrong. That’s like asking, “Do you believe in blue?”

Evolution is nothing more than a fairly simple way of understanding what is unquestionably happening. You don’t believe in it — you either understand it or you don’t. But pretending evolution is a matter of faith can be a clever way to hijack the conversation, and pit it in a false duality against religion. And that’s how we end up with people decrying evolution, even as they eat their strawberries and pet their dogs, because they’ve been led to believe faith can only be held in one or the other.

But there’s no reason for people of faith to reject the mountains of data and the evidence of their own senses. Reconciling is easy: Believe, if you want to, that God set up the rules of evolution among His wonders, along with the laws of physics, and probability, and everything else we can see and measure for ourselves. But don’t deny evolution itself, or gravity, or the roundness of Earth. That’s just covering your eyes and ears. And only monkeys would do that.

6) Totally love slurpees.  The complete abscence of 7-11’s from the Triangle area just kills me (the imitators are just not as good).  Now, I understand why I love slurpees:

On a sweltering August day, what better to cool you down than a “semi-frozen drink comprising tiny frozen particles each of which contains the proper proportions of water, flavoring and carbon dioxide.” Mmmmm.

7) Yet more evidence that actual voter fraud is only slightly more common than Bigfoot.  But Republicans are only genuinely concerned with fair elections in their support for Voter ID laws.

8) I love the utter genius/craziness of the internet that there is a tumblr dedicated to depictions of anatomically incorrect lobsters.

9) I’ve never really liked the term “African-American” but I’m a little uncomfortable being the judge of that as a white person.  I liked this essay on the problems with it from a Black person upon visiting Africa.

10) Nobody ever believes high-powered politicians, CEO’s, etc., who say they are leaving to spend more time with the family.  Here is one who explains how he genuinely is:

Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job [doctor and professor] and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.

11) Where’s my metric system?!

12) The return of Ted Lasso.  If you are Premier League fan, this is pure genius.

13) The case for starting teaching statistics in Kindergarten.  I’m not sure about kindergarten, but there’s definitely something to this.

14) The Persian Gulf war photo nobody would publish.  I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget it– viewer discretion advised.

15) Sean Hannity is a child.  He resents Stephen Colbert pointing this out.

16) Quora on “what is the single most revealing thing about any person?”  A number of variations on the following quote, which I think is pretty true and pretty awesome:

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”

~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

17) I don’t know much about Alcoholics Anonymous, but I do know that it’s not actually based on any science.  Meanwhile, we’ve learned a ton about the science of addiction in recent years.  Yet, our society still overly relies on this totally a-scientific approach.

18) Are you a narcissist?  That’s the only question you need to find out.

 

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) Al Qaeda has taken to funding its activities by kidnapping Westerners and holding them for ransom rather than just killing them.  It’s quite lucrative.  The US and British governments do not pay ransom.  That does actually seem to lead to less kidnappings, but if you are kidnapped– not pretty.  Excellent NYT story and excellent Fresh Air interview.

2) The idea that the NFL comes down so heavily on marijuana use is just absurd and stupid.  Some good questions from the recent case of Josh Gordon:

But once you look at the details of the case, the questions get bigger than whether a wide receiver smoked weed. For instance: Why does this sport need to test people using a standard along the same lines as the U.S. military’s? Why is Josh Gordon treated like a paroled criminal for his entire career after testing positive twice? Do they really test him 10 times a month? Does it make sense to treat marijuana users the same way we treat PED users? Is there anyone at the NFL who saw the positive test and thought it might be too inconclusive to publicly ban a star player for an entire year? Does it make sense for the NFL to be testing players for marijuana at all? What does the league gain from prosecuting people like this?

3) Speaking of the devil weed, USA today tries to make it look much scarier than heroin.  As you know, it’s not.  Great example of how to lie with statistics.  Good catch in Vox.

4) Fish are way smarter than we give them credit for and they certainly feel pain.  Surely some of the beliefs to the contrary help us deal with the barbaric ways in which we treat ocean creatures.

5) The economics of surfing are good for Africa.  Time for a surfin’ safari, DJC and JCD.

6) My friend Leah Friedman used to write for the N&O.  Budget cuts cost her her job, but now she’s kicking butt as an organizer.  And offering helpful tips.

7) Nice editorial from the Charlotte Observer on all the craziness the Republicans in Raleigh brought us this term.

8) South Korea gets good results from its students on international comparison tests, but absolutely crushes their souls to get there.  It’s horrible.  Nice piece in the NYT magazine (my best player on the Blasters is here because his MD/PhD parents left Korea to give their sons the decent childhood that they were denied).

9) Making choices is tough.

10) The NYT is finally calling all the post 9/11 torture conducted by the US government, “torture.”  Bout time, to say the least.

11) Love this Vox video on the movement of the US population as visualized through the changing population center of the US.

12) This Foot Locker ad is pretty awesome.  (and clearly shows evidence of benign violation).

Quick hits (part II)

1) Fist bumps and high fives spread way less germs than a handshake.  Will we all be fist-bumping each other some day?

2) The present and future of marriage in America.

3) Gender differences in cognition:

Though everyone saw improvements over time, the women did so more dramatically. The gains in smarts coincided with better living conditions, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), fertility rate, health indicators such as mortality rate, and educational opportunities, the researchers found.

Because women’s better performance coincided with higher levels of societal development across different regions and cohorts, the results suggest that improved living conditions have benefited women more than men. But the scientists aren’t sure whether that trend will continue into the future, as women simply may be “catching up” after starting from further behind, Herlitz said.

4) Were dinosaurs wiped out by bad luck?  Love this bit:

I asked Dr Brusatte: “Could dinosaur you and dinosaur me be having this conversation, instead?” …

“As far as dinosaurs becoming intelligent is concerned the experiment has been done and we call them crows,” he told BBC News.

5) So do not like tattoos.  But I found this video that explains how their permancence to be a function of a complicated interplay with the human immune system to be quite fascinating.

6) Olberman on the NFL, gender, and Ray Rice.  Good stuff.

7) Talk about reverse causality… in many African villages people are thinking that doctors are bringing the Ebola virus with them ans spreading it rather than responding to outbreaks.  Not good.  Also not good– the fact that so many doctors and nurses seem to be getting sick this go round.  Presumably, we are dealing with a newer, more virulent strain of Ebola, but I haven’t read anything good on that yet.

8) Five sort of myths about the gender pay gap.

9) Yet more evidence on the amazing benefits of even a small amount of high-intensity exercise.  You know what also has a great benefit?  Moderate-intensity running for even a few minutes a day.   This part is something:

Remarkably, these benefits were about the same no matter how much or little people ran. Those who hit the paths for 150 minutes or more a week, or who were particularly speedy, clipping off six-minute miles or better, lived longer than those who didn’t run. But they didn’t live significantly longer those who ran the least, including people running as little as five or 10 minutes a day at a leisurely pace of 10 minutes a mile or slower.

Wow!  I run somewhere between 9-10 minute miles (doesn’t feel “leisurely” to me).  Sometimes I feel guilty about not pushing myself harder, but no more!

10) Seth Masket on why political science is science:

Political science is a science. Political scientists come in a variety of flavors, but basically we’re in the business of proposing theories about the way the political world works, testing those theories with some kind of data, subjecting our findings to a peer-review process, and hopefully publishing those findings so that others can confirm or refute what we’ve done. And our understanding of the political world has improved substantially over the past century using this approach. (See Hans Noel’s article for some great examples, and see Julia Azari on Twitter for some more schooling.) That is science.

11) The human evolutionary biology of being politically conservative.

12) Apparently, at Fort Bragg they show way too much deference to officers in matters of safety.  Interesting story of how this led to a Colonel plummeting to his death in a failed parachute jump.

13) I love stuff like this– the ages at which hockey players at different positions have their best performance (interestingly, age seems to make the least difference for goalies).

(Early) Quick hits (part I)

I’m on vacation in the NC mountains for the latter part of the week, so lots of quick hits.  Here’s part I a day early:

1) Wired presents the most ridiculous laws in America, in photos.   Good stuff here.

2) 10 things to do in college (besides going to class).

3) Some potentially nasty effects of climate change.

4) What that happiest cities in America have in common

5) How Dr. Strangelove debunks the ridiculous arguments of the DC Circuit decision.

6) So, about how MOOCs were going to spell the end for traditional universities.

7) FIFA’s complete backwardness on head injuries is truly appalling (though, so is most everything about FIFA).

8) Did you hear about the 12-year old whose science project on Lionfish was a scientific breakthrough?  Well… not exactly.  It’s an interesting and complicated story.

9) If conservatives really wanted to fight poverty, they should send everybody a check.  Seriously.

10) 20 words that once meant something totally different.  On a related note, I recently learned that the origins of “lousy” was to refer to a person infested with lice.

11) The overblown stigma of genital herpes.

12) Drum explains how Republicans latest tax bill in the House actually increases taxes on the poor while lowering them on the rich.  Not that anybody should find this remotely surprising.

13) The latest research suggests that close to 10% of kids with autism actually end up leaving the diagnosis behind.  And, it’s real, not just a mis-diagnosis in the first place.  There’s some correlates with these outcomes, but, sadly, no easy answers.   If you only read one quick hit, this should be it.

Quick hits (part I)

Lots this week.  More tomorrow. Here we go…

1) This security system tested at the World Cup seems pretty great.  Would love to see it in airports soon.

2) Krugman’s nice column on the failure of Obamacare to fail.

3) This NYT piece on the utter mis-handling of a rape and a college is truly a must-read.

4) Heck, not just marijuana, the case for decriminalizing all legal drugs.  This Vox piece presents a very even-handed analysis.

5) As if I could somehow ignore an article entitled “We are our Bacteria.”

6) NC Republicans have argued that cutting unemployment benefits has helped get more people working.  The evidence (and Dean Baker) suggest otherwise.

7) Former Obama Budget Director Peter Orzag with a nice column on political polarization.

8) I’ve actually said some nice things about Politico here.  Charles Pierce takes on an article that shows all that is wrong with them.  Remind me never to get on Pierce’s bad side.

9) Fascinating NYT column on just how hard it is to learn a foreign language as an older adult.  And how good it may be for your brain.

10) Sweden has totally embraced vouchers and school choice.  The result?  Declining student performance.

11) Loved this Mark Bittman column on the true cost of a hamburger.  If there’s one concept from public policy, I wish more people understood, it’s externalities.  And hamburgers are all about externalities.

12) I had the same thought as the person Sam McDougle upon seeing the trailer for Lucy.  As if humans only use 10% of their brain.  Sadly, aparently a lot of people still belief this total malarkey.

13) Apparently nitrous oxide, yes, laughing gas, is quite an effective anesthestic for child birth.  It is widely used in Europe, yet hardly in America.  In part, because of a turf battle between anestheloiogists and nurses.

14) Loved this Guardian column on Manuel Neuer’s goalkeeping, especially this part:

 On a football pitch you are looking to gain any advantage you can. Like the opposition, you only have access to 11 players so you must use these players as efficiently as possible. If one of them has no role other than babysitting the net, then you’re already at a disadvantage.

Football is a lot like chess. You have the same number of pieces as your opponent, you face-off on the same playing surface and you both have the same aim. The great chess players know they need to get the most out of each of their pieces to win. This gives rise to the maxim: “The King is a fighting piece – use it.” …

By using your goalkeeper not just to protect your own goals but to actually participate in defending, building attacks and keeping the ball, you are utilising your 11th man. If your opposition are not doing this, you immediately have a man advantage.

How the running shoe industry is like pre-Moneyball baseball scouts

So, a friend knowing I obsess about most things I purchase, came into my office to ask about running shoes a couple of days ago.   We had a lengthy discussion of the research that suggests that shoes fitted to one’s particular gait (i.e., over/under pronation, etc.) are not actually better for you.  I was familiar with this research from Gretchen Reynolds’ The First 20 Minutes which I’ve plugged here before and will plug again, but I also found her NYT column summarizing the research:

Over the course of three large studies, the most recent of which was published last month in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, the researchers found almost no correlation at all between wearing the proper running shoes and avoiding injury. Injury rates were high among all the runners, but they were highest among the soldiers who had received shoes designed specifically for their foot types. If anything, wearing the “right” shoes for their particular foot shape had increased trainees’ chances of being hurt.

Scientific rumblings about whether running shoes deliver on their promises have been growing louder in recent years. In 2008, an influential review article in The British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that sports-medicine specialists should stop recommending running shoes based on a person’s foot posture. No scientific evidence supported the practice, the authors pointed out, concluding that “the true effects” of today’s running shoes “on the health and performance of distance runners remain unknown.”

And, a more recent study I had not yet learned about:

Then they gave all of the volunteers the same model of lightweight, neutral running shoes (rather than motion-control shoes, which are designed to correct pronation problems), along with a GPS watch to track their mileage and instructions to report any injury, which would then be assessed by medical personnel.

The volunteers subsequently ran as much as they wished at a self-chosen pace for a full year. As a whole, the group covered more than 203,000 miles and developed about 300 medically confirmed injuries.

Contrary to received running wisdom, however, those who overpronated or underpronated were not significantly more likely to get hurt than runners with neutral foot motion.

Among those who covered at least 600 miles during the year, injury rates in fact were slightly higher among the runners with neutral feet than among those who overpronated…

The research reinforces a widespread belief among scientists studying running “that pronation doesn’t play much of a role” in injury risk, he says.

It also suggests, he says, that trying to alter pronation with a specific type of shoe is probably misguided. At the university’s running clinic, “we see so many injured runners who’ve been told that they overpronate” and need sturdy motion-control shoes to fix the problem. “They wind up injured anyway.”

Instead, he says, this new study and common sense suggest that comfort is likely to be a better guide to shoe choice than foot posture.

I’m pretty confident, though, that if you go into any running shoe store they will quite confidently tell you that you need a particular shoe to match your stride and you will surely get blank looks and push back if you mention this research.  The traditional approach just seems to make so much sense.  Amazing how far that can take us without evidence (the examples within medicine are myriad, many great examples in Overtreated).  For my part, though, I couldn’t help thinking about Moneyball and how baseball scouts just know what makes a good player because it all makes so much intuitive sense.  Only when Billy Beane et al., started to look at data, did people finally realize otherwise.

So, as my shoes are three years old (worn out for sure, but surprise, surprise, there’s actually no evidence that this is more likely to lead to increased injury risk):

Dr. Schelde did find a study on injury rates among runners, published in 2003, that had some relevant data even though it was not a randomized clinical trial and shoe age was not its main focus. The study was large and regularly tested runners in a 13-week training program. The researchers failed to find any clear relationship between how long running shoes were worn and a runner’s risk of injury.

I did decide to get a new pair.  Thus, even though all the gait analyses I’ve had tell me I need a “stability” shoe for my overpronation, the research suggests I should just buy a neutral.  Why go back to the fancy running store when the employees will sell me shoes based on pre-Moneyball baseball scouting?  So, I didn’t.  I researched on-line and I just went to Dick’s and used my gift card that my soccer team parents got me.

In the end, I kind of hedged a little bit.  Brooks now has “guidance” shoes which are kind of like stability-lite or neutral-plus.  That struck me as a good compromise.  More importantly, they felt great when I tried them on.   So, the Brooks Ravenna 5 it is.

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