Photo of the day

From animal photos of the week at the Telegraph:

This playful tiger appears to be swimming through pea soup as he goes for a dip. Only the head of the young Siberian tiger was visible as he swam through thick weed in the pond at Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark
This playful tiger appears to be swimming through pea soup as he goes for a dip. Only the head of the young Siberian tiger was visible as he swam through thick weed in the pond at Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark.Picture: Soren Nielsen/Solent News

The pointlessness of “GMO free”

Love this James Hamblin post about GMO Labeling from last summer.  Somehow, I just came across it.  Anyway, so good:

The central and debilitating fallacy of the “right to know” argument is the meaninglessness and misleading nature of what is being known. Humans have been practicing bioengineering for centuries with selective breeding and cultivation. The Non-GMO Project defines “genetically modified organisms” as those “artificially manipulated in a laboratory” as opposed to “traditional cross-breeding methods,” wherein a laboratory is the nidus of transgression. [emphases mine] It was only as recently as 1979 that Gallatin Valley Seed won the All American Selection Award for creating a variety of pea known as sugar snap, which is now ubiquitous, but carries no Franken-crop warning label. Indeed, most any act of agriculture could be considered an imposition of “unnatural” human activity into malleable, unassuming ecosystems. The domain of bioengineering is too vast and complex to know what exactly to make of blanket “GMO” labels; the hopeful premise that this is a binary indicator of good or evil is false. Should I have the “right to know” if my food contains ghosts?

Long-term effects of introducing certain crops into certain ecosystems, and the business practices with which they are grown and sold, are enormously important and remain to be seen and carefully considered. Some effects of agriculture will be desirable, some untoward, and effects of both kinds will come from crops that run the gamut of what has been “modified” by human intervention, and to what degree. But “GMO-free” does not mean fair trade, and it does not mean sustainable, and it does not mean monoculture-averting, and it does not mean rainforest-enabling, and it does not mean labor-friendly, and it does not mean healthy, though it puffs its chest and carries itself alongside those claims. Activists march with signs that say “I AM NOT AN EXPERIMENT.” But the state of having 7 billion food-consuming humans on this planet—6 billion more than there were two centuries ago—is an unprecedented experiment.

Yes, yes, yes!!  One of my favorite pieces I’ve read on GMO.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Great piece on the conservative myth of a social safety net built on charity.  The real world– unlike Paul Ryan speeches– just doesn’t work that way.

2) What should we do when doctors and nurses make fatal errors?  Great stuff.

3) Title of the piece, “An Experimental Autism treatment cost me my marriage.”  Not at all what you think and far more fascinating than you expect.

4) Damn straight the US needs more roundabouts for traffic.

5) This National Review column blaming Trump on Obama is literally one of the dumbest things I have ever read::

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the creation of Trumpism. The p.c. insanity on college campuses. Globalization and the hollowing out of the working class. ISIS in Paris and San Bernardino. The broadcast media that donated $1.898 billion in free media to the cause. Let’s stipulate all of that and much else besides.

6) No women’s nipples on Facebook– under any circumstances!  Women’s nipples are bad.

7) History of Rock ‘n Roll in social media form.  Very, very cool.

8) Love this Rolling Stone look at Rubio’s political career.  It’s long-ish.  Read it anyway.

Still, in any other year, Rubio might have gotten away with it. But in this bizarre election season, in which a billionaire not-all-that-conservative demagogue has been embraced by Republican voters as, bafflingly, a tell-it-like-it-is populist, Rubio came across as exactly what he is: a malleable, transactional and utterly manufactured candidate, bolstered by the elites. “Poor Marco, he’s the failed savior,” says Miami Democrat Joe Garcia, who has known Rubio since he served in the Florida House. “He was going to lead the Republicans out of the political wilderness, like Moses. He looked good, he sounded good, and he takes them into the desert and…they go, ‘Fuck you! We’re voting for Donald Trump.'”…

“I think a great question is, how did Rubio start his D.C. career as the first Tea Party senator and wind up being the establishment choice?”

The answer is, Rubio has always been an establishment choice. Since his Senate run, his truest base has been the broad network of mostly white Republican elites operating behind the scenes.

9) In a rational world, the press would care that all the Republican candidates are proposing to emulate policies that have been disastrous in Kansas and Louisiana.

10) Is ADHD too often diagnosed for what is just immaturity?  Probably.

11) Lee Drutman back with the realignment theme and how it relates to Merrick Garland:

But Republican senators are going to be forced to take public positions now. For Republicans facing tough reelections, opposing a moderate looks particularly bad in light of Trump at the top of the ticket. That is precisely what the pick is designed to accomplish.

This is not a one-off strategic choice for the Democrats. It signals the direction party leaders are likely to move in the years ahead. If Trump is the nominee (as still seems very, very likely), Democrats can effectively take their base for granted, as Obama just did. Clinton can run to the center and then as president continue to push a centrist agenda designed to split Republicans.

And as Trump becomes the standard-bearer for the Republican Party, Republicans in the Senate and elsewhere will have to decide whether they are with him or not. And if Democrats are canny (as Obama and Clinton both are), they will force more difficult choices on Republicans, hammering on the cracks in a Republican coalition that is falling apart.

As I’ve argued already, I believe we are at the beginning of a coming party realignment that will end with Democrats becoming the party of urban, cosmopolitan business liberalism and Republicans the party of suburban and rural nationalist populism. (For more on the political science underlying this likely realignment scenario, Jennifer Victor has a great explanation at Mischiefs of Faction.)

Obama’s decision to nominate Garland seems to me a clear sign that we are moving in this direction. It’s an unmistakable Democratic pivot to the center, intended to divide Republicans while taking the base for granted. We are going to see a lot more of this ahead.

12) Great Linda Greenhouse piece revisiting the Bork nomination.

13) Of course the “Biden Rule” is nothing but a Mitch McConnell created fiction.

14) Slate’s Jim Newell on how Kasich is trying to destroy the Republican party in order to save it.

15) Sarah Kliff on the stupidity of Trump’s health care proposals (fewer people covered for higher cost).


16) Ever wonder why we get 12 hours of daylight several days before the equinox?  I always have.

17) Jane Kelly was not nominated for the Supreme Court, but that does not mean this smear is not totally wrong and un-American.

18) The Simpsons predicted President Trump back in 2000.

19) The politics of barbecue in North Carolina makes the New York Times.  And just so we’re clear… Eastern style.

20) Pundit Jeff Greenfield says Hillary could do “just as much damage to her party” as Trump could do his.  Seriously??!!  Pundits.

21) It’s kind of amazing the atrocious behavior we let high school coaches get away with.

22) Samanta Bee skewers Ted Cruz.


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