Video of the day

You know I love me some cool surfing photos and videos (and I don’t think I’ve ever even touched a surfboard!).  These were filmed with a Gopro camera attached to a drone.  More details here.  Click the video through to vimeo and watch it large.


The v word

Interesting article in the Atlantic about how we do our kids a disservice by not teaching them the proper names for body parts, i.e., genitalia:

…educators increasingly believe–and parents seem increasingly to accept–that teaching and using plain and accurate language to describe the human body can help children live healthier lives. “We need all adults to be partners in teaching healthy childhood sexual development,” says NSVRC’s Palumbo, and “square one is body parts.” Educators and parents should communicate accurately, without stigma or shame, she says. This helps children who “have important health questions or an experience they’re concerned about talk with adults about their concerns,” whether the child is seven or seventeen.

I’m totally on board with this.  And with the boys I’ve always referred to their penis pretty much as easily as I might refer to an elbow or knee.  Yet, I was pulled up short the other day when Sarah was asking about this.  She asked a question about her brother’s penis and then asked about herself.  “What’s this called?” she asked.  And, for whatever reason, I couldn’t just bring myself to say “vagina” and let it go.  Perhaps in part because I feared all sorts of snickering from her brothers who are plenty used to “penis” but not “vagina.”  Instead, I yelled, “Kim?!”  And we distracted Sarah.  Now, I feel bad about this.  Next time, “vagina” it is.  I suppose I just need to get used to it.  On a quasi-related note, I still feel a little funny any time I mention Pussy Riot in class.

How polarized are the parties?

Very handy for me that the Monkey Cage keeps posting excellent piece on party polarization while I’m teaching it in my class.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, Morris Fiorina keeps asserting that Americas are no more polarized than before, just better sorted (i.e., now pretty much all liberals are Democrats and all conservatives are Republicans).  This is undoubtedly a big part of the story, but surely not all of it.  For data, he shows that American’s aren’t really all that polarized on abortion.

They are not, but his own graph shows that they’ve become more polarized than before.  The fact the the electorate is less polarized than the elites– very true– doesn’t mean the electorate has not become notably more polarized.  For my taste, Fiorina relies far too much on the highly problematic liberal/conservative self-placement measure.

Meanwhile, I think Carsey and Layman make the strongest case, based on the idea that we’ve extended the realm of partisan conflict and that we see not only more polarization on particular issues, but more pervasive polarization:

Our research suggests that the process of conflict displacement has itself been replaced by what we call conflict extension. Thus, while party polarization is not new, growing polarization across multiple issue dimensions may well be new.

Insert bunch of charts showing polarization across a variety of issues.

Conflict extension has evolved to such a degree that insurgent groups who in the past might press a single-issue agenda are now likely to advance more strident positions across multiple issues…

Where does this leave us? Current discussions of party polarization must recognize that polarization in general is not new. The two major parties almost always have disagreed deeply about some policy issues. However, what may be different is the emergence of party polarization across all major dimensions of domestic political debate. That political polarization seems, to most people, to be worse now than in prior eras may be due partly to this conflict extension. Where parties in earlier periods may have found many areas of agreement even as they fought bitterly over some issues, parties today disagree on virtually everything.  [emphasis mine]

And finally, I really like how Alan Abramowitz ties this to the increasing demographic divides between the parties:

The 2012 election results once again revealed the existence of an electorate deeply divided by race, religion and ideology. Those divisions are found among general election as well as primary voters. The Democratic and Republican electoral coalitions are more distinctive now in terms of social characteristics and political outlook than at any time in the past sixty years. There is no disconnect between representatives and represented — today’s elite polarization is not imposed on a centrist electorate.

The deep partisan divide in Washington clearly reflects a deep partisan divide within the American electorate, and for this reason, it is unlikely to diminish any time soon.

Short version: yes, Americans are better sorted into the parties based on ideology, but just as importantly, they are further from the center on political issues than in the past and they are more likely to be polarized from each other across a broader array of issues.

Photo of the day

Made my first ever foray to nearby Eno River State Park on Monday (what took me so long?!).  Coolest part was a foot suspension bridge.  Very cool.  1/3 of my family was actually afraid to cross it.  The brave Sarah was not– here she poses in triumph at the far side of the bridge (with the horse for which she had been looking for a week and thus did not put down all day):

Orcas, Sea World, and medical billing codes

So, I somehow never posted about the movie Blackfish, which I watched while stricken with the flu over Christmas break.  Anyway, its a documentary about the mistreatment of orcas (i.e., killer whales) by Sea World and how deadly they can be to their “trainers.”  A pretty amazing film (and available via Netflix streaming).  Here’s the trailer:

And, although Sea World insists that attacks from orcas are really rare, I was amazed to read– the very day after I watched the film- -that they new ICD codes (ICD-10) used for medical billing actually have a specific code for an orca attack!  The ICD article is interesting in it’s own right, but uses the orca attack as a hook to show just how specific the ICD can get.  The fact that somebody thought a code was needed for orca attacks, is certainly telling though.  As the film notes, there’s never been a documented case of a wild orca attacking a human– only in captivity.

[For the record, I’m very familiar with ICD-9 codes as Alex’s code, 759.5 Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, has saved us probably tens of thousands of dollars if we did not have the known genetic origin of his disease and were stuck with 315.9 Unspecified delay in development, which rarely qualifies for reimbursement]

%d bloggers like this: