Joe Klein

So, Joe Klein was at NCSU today as a featured lecture speaker and I got one of the rare invites for a small lunch and actually got to sit near him.  Very clear that his really smart and really knowledgeable.  Had a fun, wide-ranging conversation from Crimea, to the Middle-East, to party polarization, etc.  He also shared a great anecdote about Hillary and Bill at the end of his presidency, but I guess it wasn’t so good enough that I remember the details.  Something to do with Hillary snorting derisively at something flattering Klein said to Bill.

Anyway, nothing too enlightening, but it was interesting to see how his extensive coverage of the military has really moved him to focus on pushing national service for young people. Also, I was somewhat amused at how he– as any good journalist seems to– so had to reflexively insist he’s in the middle. He frequently mentioned his attacks from the right and the left, though it’s clear most of his views fall left-of-center in today’s politics. Saying some harsh things about public sector unions is not the equivalent of being in favor of higher taxes and universal health care. Anyway, it was all quite fun and interesting, and JMY was quite adamant I get this photo on the blog…


And, oh yeah, if you like political fiction at all, I suspect Primary Colors holds up well.  It really is a damn good book.

How free refills, my small bladder, and my kids keep me healthy

Very nice piece on Quirks and Quarks this week that takes a comprehensive look at the research on sitting and your health.  There’s a significant body of research now that shows that doing a lot of sitting is bad for you– even if you also get plenty of exercise.  Hello, me!  What seems to be particularly harmful, is sitting for long periods of time, though.  I almost never do that.  My long stretches of work are typically in the afternoons after a lunch of (usually pizza and) bottomless Diet Coke (or Diet Pepsi, if forced) refills.  Throw in my small bladder and during the afternoon I am actually stretching my legs and getting a walk down the hall every 20-30 minutes.  It gets old, but, hey, now I know it is good for me.  The upshot of the research seems to be to make sure you are changing positions at least every 30 minutes and that it is change that is good.  You don’t want too much standing or too much sitting.

And suffice it to say, that when I’m home with four whiny and demanding kids you can be pretty much guaranteed that there’s no way I’m ever sitting still for more than 15 minutes (or sometimes, 2 minutes).  I’ll remind myself how healthy I’m being next time when Sarah sends me back into the kitchen to get her more water 30 seconds after I was just up to find her missing pony.

Photo of the day

Via Wired’s Space Photo of the day:

In celebration of the 24th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (on April 24, 1990) astronomers have taken an infrared-light portrait of a roiling region of starbirth located 6,400 light-years away. The Hubble mosaic unveils a collection of carved knots of gas and dust in a small portion of the Monkey Head Nebula (also known as NGC 2174 and Sharpless Sh2-252). The nebula is a star-forming region that hosts dusky dust clouds silhouetted against glowing gas.

Massive, newly formed stars near the center of the nebula (and toward the right in this image) are blasting away at dust within the nebula. Ultraviolet light from these bright stars helps carve the dust into giant pillars. The nebula is mostly composed of hydrogen gas, which becomes ionized by the ultraviolet radiation. As the interstellar dust particles are warmed from the radiation from the stars in the center of the nebula, they heat up and begin to glow at infrared wavelengths. The image demonstrates Hubble’s powerful infrared vision and offers a tantalizing hint of what scientists can expect from the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. Observations of NGC 2174 were taken in February 2014.

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