Photo of the day

I don’t recall seeing “week in photos” compilations in Slate before, but this is a really nice gallery.  Given  the love for Spongebob in my family, I couldn’t resist this one:


Photo by Antara Photo Agency/Reuters

Muslimsattend an Eid al-Adha prayers as haze shrouds at Agung Mosque in Palembang, Indonesia, on Sept. 24, 2015.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Getting really tired of reading highfalutin commentary such as this on how powerpoint “ruins critical thinking.”  Oh please.  Powerpoint is a tool.  That’s all.  It can be used well or poorly.  But it’s got almost nothing to do with whether students learn critical thinking.

2) We so need more criminal punishments for corporate malefactors that think they can knowingly poison people and then just hide behind their corporation.  So glad this guy got almost 30 years for killing (and seriously sickening) people with peanut butter.

3) Oh, Ben Carson.  Apparently Darwin’s theory of evolution is literally from the devil.  On a related note, an interesting short essay on how we think about evolution.  And finally while we’re at it, loved this Radiolab on how viruses may have evolved.

4) Republicans argue that if Planned Parenthood is defunded women can go elsewhere for their health care.  In actuality, of course, it just means that poor women’s health needs will be even more under-served.

5) A Washington school district that wants kids to stop playing tag (they have unspecified alternatives) because, you know, kids touch each other during tag.

6) Cass Sunstein on better government through social science.

7) Carly Fiorina does not like being criticized.  So she just lies about people.  I’m really thinking she’s not such a good person.  Also, Ezra Klein at his best on why it doesn’t even matter whether she was a good or bad CEO.

8) You know who is a good person?  Pope Francis.  John Cassidy on the symbolism in his papcy:

What has lifted Pope Francis above the political fray and reinvigorated his office in a way that could barely have been imagined under Pope Benedict, is his peerless ability to convey to ordinary people of all religions and political views his version of Catholicism—a version based largely on the life and teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order. From choosing to live in a modest guest house, rather than the Apostolic Palace, to washing the feet of a young Muslim prisoner, to inviting dozens of homeless people to tour the Sistine Chapel, Pope Francis has lifted up the papacy by puncturing its grandeur, infusing it with humanity, and, where necessary, cleverly exploiting the power of imagery.

9) Not surprisingly, but cool to think about, you’ve got your own personal cloud of microbes following you around.

10) The new research on the nature of student debt deserved it’s own post.  I failed long enough:

And the data suggests that many popular perceptions of student debt are incorrect. The huge run-up in loans and the subsequent spike in defaults have not been driven by $100,000 debts incurred by students at expensive private colleges like N.Y.U.

They are driven by $8,000 loans at for-profit colleges and, to a lesser extent, community colleges. Borrowing for both of these has become far more common in recent years. Mr. Looney and Mr. Yannelis estimate that 75 percent of the increase in default between 2004 and 2011 can be explained by the surge in the number of borrowers at those institutions.

11) Eduardo Porter on the growing education gap.

12) So, remember that UNC class on loving the 9/11 terrorists?  The professor wrote a nice Op-Ed in the N&O.

13) On the “ginger supremacist” who sought to kill Prince Charles and Prince William so the red-headed Harry would be king.  Yes, very disturbed man, but I can’t help but love the idea of a ginger supremacist.

14) Seth Masket on why Walker (and Perry) dropped out.  It’s because he actually wanted to be president rather than just running a vanity campaign:

Precisely because Walker and Perry are serious politicians. This is a career for them. Walker, in particular, still has several years left in his term (in an office that isn’t term-limited), and he might make a run for U.S. Senate some day. He might also think seriously about a presidential run further down the road.

He probably could have strung out his presidential campaign a few more months on a shoestring budget, and maybe even found a few eccentric donors to back such an effort. But he’s a smart enough politician to see that probably wouldn’t have succeeded, and he’d have been humiliated in the early primaries and caucuses and just angered some donors who would have seen him as a waste of money. Better to show some discretion than go all in on a suicide mission, especially when he’s only in his mid-40s.

15) Sarah Kliff on the case of daraprim and why American drug prices are so crazy.  And with a great interview on the topic.

16) In truth, most people who have later abortions due so for a really good reason (I’ve personally known multiple cases of pregnancy with anencephaly).  It’s surely hard enough all ready for them.  Here’s a riveting first-person example.

17) I did really love this “Politically Correct Lord of the Flies” in the New Yorker.

18) Thoughtful Connor Friedersdorf piece on the problematic intellectual framework of microaggressions.

19) Really disturbing story of how Afghan warlords have boy sex slaves and American forces are just supposed to accept this part of their culture.


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