Photo of the day

Recent photo of the day from National Geographic.  I’ve been following the photograph, Cory Richards.  He doesn’t post a lot, but what he does is awesome.

Picture of a climber suspended from a rock in Antarctica

Climber, Queen Maud Land

Photograph by Cory Richards

Suspended from an anchor in the rock hundreds of feet above the ice and snow, Mike Libecki hauls himself up a granite tower in Antarctica’s remote Queen Maud Land.

NC Political Poetry

A while back, JDW emailed me some political poems he had written in various styles.  I had no idea this was his hidden talent.  With his permission (and a few of his comments in parentheses), here’s a few of his works…

The crazies are here

They took over the state house
Run into the woods
(William Carlos Williams, perhaps?)
Dear NC,
I have reversed 
all the progress
you made

reforms you 
were probably making
for the future

Forgive me
they were too expensive
and progressive 
and cannot hold
(I did a little play on NC politics through a play on Brooks’ “Pool Players“)
We real cool.  We ban books

in school.  We
entrench hate.  We
perpetuate.  We
fight sin.  We
despise gin.  We
are a bunch of loons.  Jesus
is coming real soon.

Quick hits

1) Judicial elections are a horrible idea.  I former (elected) Texas judge shares his thoughts.

2) First person account of just how stupid our immigration enforcement can be.  And sadly totally believable based on other stories I’ve heard (including a good friend who’s brother-in-law was denied entry from Chile because they refused to believe a man was coming here simply to help take care of his infant niece).

3) James Surowiecki on why CEO pay just keeps going up and up and up.

4) Other than the climate, our country sure would be a lot better without the South.

5) Kristof on endocrine disruptors:

These are the kinds of threats that we in journalism are not very good at covering. We did a wretched job covering risks from lead and tobacco in the early years; instead of watchdogs, we were lap dogs.

Exactly, slowly building threats pretty much never capture the attention of the media until it’s well too late.

6) Of course oreos are as addictive as cocaine.  Totally works on the same part of the brain in a similar manner.   Reminds me of one of my favorite non-fiction books in recent years, The End of Overeating.  

7) Always good to be reminded just how much our stupid, stupid fiscal policies in recent years are really damaging the economy.  Drum:

In other words, the combined effect of past budget deals + sequester + fiscal cliff + debt ceiling crisis is probably a reduction of about half in our economic growth rate this year.

Let me repeat that: Republican austerity policies have probably cut economic growth in half this year and raised the unemployment rate by 1.4 percentage points. Heckuva job, guys.

8) Very nice summary of the happiness research on how money can most effectively be used to make you happier (hint: it’s not buying a bigger house or bigger TV).

9) How about that– Politico of all places with a nice story on the myth bad and declining American public schools.

As for the academic flat line: The percentage of kids scoring “below basic” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — widely considered the most reliable measure — has plummeted in both reading and math in both fourth and eighth grade for every racial group except Native Americans. Average reading and math scores for each subgroup in the fourth and eighth grades have also climbed steadily over the past 20 years.

10) Popular anti-GMO documentary is basically anti-science.  I’m not surprised.

Seifert explained his research process in an interview with Nathanael Johnson of Grist: “I didn’t really dig too deep into the scientific aspect.” …

Seifert asserts that the scientific verdict is still out on the safety of G.M. foods—which I guess it is, unless you consult actual scientists.

11) Loved Nurtureshock and Top Dog by Ashley Merryman and Po Bronson.  Merryman took to the NYT with a nice column on how losing is good for you:

It turns out that, once kids have some proficiency in a task, the excitement and uncertainty of real competition may become the activity’s very appeal.

If children know they will automatically get an award, what is the impetus for improvement? Why bother learning problem-solving skills, when there are never obstacles to begin with?

In life, “you’re going to lose more often than you win, even if you’re good at something,” Ms. Twenge told me. “You’ve got to get used to that to keep going.”

When children make mistakes, our job should not be to spin those losses into decorated victories. Instead, our job is to help kids overcome setbacks, to help them see that progress over time is more important than a particular win or loss, and to help them graciously congratulate the child who succeeded when they failed. To do that, we need to refuse all the meaningless plastic and tin destined for landfills. We have to stop letting the Trophy-Industrial Complex run our children’s lives.

Of course, the Blasters are all getting trophies this season.  Then again, they will all say “first place.”



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