Photo of the day

Recent National Geographic photo of the day:

Picture of a colony of emperor penguins in Antarctica

Emperor Penguin Colony, Antarctica

Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

Happy Easter

One of life’s little factoids I love knowing is that Easter is scheduled for the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal equinox.  Of course, when figuring out the date of Easter in future years, it’s a lot easier to google “Easter 2014.”  Anyway, when thinking about next year it got me to wondering about the range of possible dates for Easter, as it is definitely on the early side this year and the last side next year.  The Census Bureau  of all organizations, actually put together a cool chart of how often Easter falls on any given day.  This year’s March 31, is among the more common dates, accounting for 4.4% of Easters. It’s only been 11 years since the last one and another 11 years till a March 31 Easter.  Meanwhile, between 1600 and 2099, March 24 gets only two Easters.  Anyway, pretty cool.  Happy Easter should it apply to you (and if not, just enjoy your Sunday)

Easter Bunnies - Assorted.  My butt hurts


Photo of the day

N&O presents a gallery from the “military photographer of the year” competition:

Dust lights up the rotors of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter as paratroopers with 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment load for an air assault mission near Combat Outpost Ab Band May 23, 2012, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. This photo placed second, Pictorial, in the 2012 Military Photographer of the Year photo competition. SGT. MICHAEL MACLEOD/USARMY — MCT

Photo of the day

Iditarod (Big Picture):

A musher travels across Norton Sound on their way to Koyuk on March 11. (Bill Roth/The Anchorage Daily News via Associated Press) 

Fewer drug uses; more reckless endangerers

In prison, that is.  Listened to this amazing NPR story earlier this week about the dangers in “walking down the grain” in which workers literally drown to death in corn:

Early the next morning, on a stifling hot day in July 2010, Whitebread joined his buddies Alex Pacas, 19, and Will Piper, 20, at the Haasbach LLC grain storage complex. Piper had begun working there the week before, and it was Pacas’ second day on the job.

The boys carried shovels and picks as they climbed a ladder four stories to the top of the grain bin, which was twice as wide and half-filled with 250,000 bushels of wet and crusty corn. Their job was to “walk down the grain,” or break up the kernels that clung to the walls and clogged the drainage hole at the bottom of the bin.

The work went well at first, with the boys shoveling corn toward a cone-shaped hole at the center of the bin. But around 9:45 a.m., Whitebread began sinking in the corn. He was sucked under in minutes and disappeared. Pacas and Piper also began to sink and desperately struggled to stay on the surface.

Six horrific hours later, only Piper was carried out alive.

It turns out that in case after case the employer is basically sending people out to their doom despite plenty of evidence they very well may be doing so.  Reckless disregard for human life at the very least.   Yet, as the story points out, very, very few of these reckless endangerers are ever prosecuted and when they are fined, the fines typically end up dramatically reduced.

It seems to me in story after story of corporate/business malfeasance managers/owners, etc., make decisions which lead directly to either death or completely ruining people’s lives.   And yet they are almost never punished for it.  Meanwhile, if you are caught with a few pills of Ocycontin that don’t belong to you, you could get years in prison.  Quite simply, as a society we go way to easy on corporate crime.  That should change (not that I think it would will).  That said, it would sure make me happy to see more people like the man who sends a 14 year old into an incredibly dangerous corn bin (or mortgage brokers who defraud people out of their life savings, etc.) in prison and fewer drug addicts.


It’s the prices

Why do we spend so much on health care in America?  Because we charge so much for health care in America?  Why do we charge so much?  Well, that’s complicated, but as much as anything it comes from a lack of a government role.  Hard as it may be for conservatives to accept all those countries with more expansive health care for lower cost due it by using the power of the government to keep prices down.  Truth is, doctors, hospitals, medical device manufacturers, etc., can do quite well and get plenty rich in other countries– just not nearly so rich as in America.  Ezra’s got 21(!) charts on the matter.  Here’s a few:

office visit

bypass surgeryhospital dayMRI

Now, tell me again we don’t need government involved in prices.  Or that somehow all we need is insurance companies to sell policies across states and this absurdity goes away?  Ummm, no.  National single payer health plan with a global budget?  Yep– that would go a long way.

Gay marriage in 2020

Count on Nate Silver to bring the heavy statistical analysis to the future of gay marriage.  Assuming present trends in public opinion continue (certainly a debatable assumption, but the rate of increase in support has been quite stable for a number of years), here’s the state of gay marriage public opinion in 2020:

That’s pretty amazing.  And wow– Alabama and Mississippi in a class by themselves.  There’s a reason those are the two states I pick on all the time in my classes.  Mississippi: “where we keep the poor man, the Black man, and the gay man down– and don’t even get started about education.”



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