Photo of the day

Awesome photos of a starling murmuration in Israel.  And a video here.

Starling murmuration

A flock of starlings fly in what’s known as a murmuration near the town of Rahat in southern Israel this week.

Mega quick hits (part II)

1) Largest ethnic group in America (by country of national origin)?  Germans.  Hey, that’s me.

2) TSA jails innocent man for misunderstanding over Power Bars.

3) Love this video with the human behind Humans of New York.

4) Oh, how I loved this Slate piece on the Beanie Baby bubble of the 1990’s.  I’ll never forget my stepmother going crazy buying Princess Diana beanies, convinced of their future worth (you can pick one up for $5 on ebay).

5) The authors’ five bad habits he kicked in Finland (I’m not sure they are all bad).  Need Mika to weigh in on these.

6) Enjoyed Chait’s response to all the haters on his PC article.  Amazing (and pathetic) how many simply accused him of being an upset white man (and clearly didn’t read the article).

7) Nice EJ Dionne on the wrongness of Paul Ryan’s “envy economics.”

We should just admit it: Government inevitably redistributes all the time. Won’t bigger defense budgets help large defense companies? At a time of rising inequality, we need to pay closer attention to whether this ongoing government redistribution aggravates the problem or instead tries to make life better for those at the wrong end of economic change.

8) Linda Greenhouse on how overturning Obamacare via King v. Burwell would fundamentally change the nature of the Supreme Court (given the amazingly weak case of the plantiff, I fully agree).

9) Lawmakers in Kansas want to ban professors at state universities from using their titles in newspaper columns.

10) My favorite takedown of the right-wing idiocy that Obama had the temerity to mention that Christians have been known to do horrible things in the name of religion.   And TNC with a great takedown, too (of course).

11) Paid sick leave does not actually hurt business.  So say businesses.

12) Meanwhile, Yglesias with a nice argument on why paid parental leave is too important to be left up to employers (and, of course, the same thing could be said of health care).

13) How had I never heard before of this experimental protocol that is supposed to make you fall in love.  Maybe I should try it with my wife (are you reading, Kimberly?)

14) This article strikes me as far too simplistic, but there sure does seem to be something going on with the gut-brain connection in people with autism.

15) Why are so many Americans in prison?  It’s not drugs, not tougher sentencing laws, but the behavior of prosecutors says provocative new scholarship.

16) Two articles on phages in one weekend! (This one is better– I just discovered it).  This part is mind-blowing:

The book is full of astonishing phage statistics. There are, for example, an estimated 1031—ten million trillion trillion—phages on Earth, more than every other organism, including bacteria, put together. [emphasis mine] The average teaspoon of seawater contains five times as many phages as there are people in Rio de Janeiro. According to researchers in Vancouver, these tiny viruses cause a collective trillion trillion successful infections per second, in the process destroying up to forty per cent of all bacterial cells in the ocean every single day. Following their deaths at the hands of phages, those carbon-containing microorganisms sink down into the marine sediment, effectively removing greenhouse gases from circulation.

17) Really liked Jon Cohn’s (now at HuffPo) piece on Obama’s child care agenda.

18) The way to get parents to use vaccines?  Don’t give them a choice.  Nice interview with Brendan Nyhan:

BN: Studies have found that providers who use presumptive language, saying, ‘It’s time for some shots,’ are much more likely to have successful vaccine compliance than providers who use participatory language like, ‘What do you think about shots?’ It’s of course important to respect patient autonomy but I think, at the same time, the language providers use gives patients a cue about the strength of the medical evidence.

If you roll into the emergency room on a stretcher with a gun shot wound, no one says, ‘How do you feel about getting bullets out of you?’ They say, ‘We need to get this out of you now.’ There is a move in medicine toward participatory approaches in contexts in which the benefits are less clear. But this is an area where the science is very clear and the language we use should reflect that.

19) The fact that North Carolina cannot find a way to outlaw puppy mills (and that the American Kennel Club is fighting against outlawing them) is truly deplorable.

20) Great NYT editorial on Scott Walker’s deplorable attack on the University of Wisconsin system.




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