Quick hits (part I)

Sorry I did not get to more blogging this week.  Busy catching up after a mini vacation, plus standard end-of-semester busyness.  But so much I wanted to write about and just didn’t have time.

1) As a parent who’s child was diagnosed with autism under 2 (our autism concerns were our first clue that actually read to his rare disease diagnosis), I’m definitely interested in the latest research looking for early signs of autism to allow for earlier intervention:

Every pediatrician knows that it’s important to diagnose autism when a child is as young as possible, because when younger children get help and intensive therapy, their developmental outcomes improve, as measured in everything from improved language, cognition and social skills to normalized brain activity.

“The signs and symptoms for most children are there between 12 and 24 months,” said Dr. Paul S. Carbone, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah and a co-author of “Autism Spectrum Disorder: What Every Parent Needs to Know,” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. “If we can get them in for evaluation by then, the therapies are available as young as those ages, you can easily start by 2,” he said. “We’d like to give kids the benefit of getting started early.”…

Researchers looking to find a biomarker that may help with the early diagnosis of autism have seized on the question of how young children react to hearing their names called. Dr. Dawson was the corresponding author on a study in April in the journal Autismwhich used computer vision analysis to look at the reactions of toddlers from 16 to 31 months old, in response to hearing their names called. Those with autism spectrum disorder took significantly longer to look away from a video and orient toward the person who had called.

“Toddlers and infants who will go on to develop autism are paying attention to the world in a very different way,” Dr. Dawson said.

The hope is eventually to make a tool that would be easily available in low-resource countries, or in any area in the United States, perhaps by having parents collect data on their phones.

2) I learned about the legal thicket of sex-by-deception pretty recently.  It’s actually a complicated and varying legal issue:

Abigail Finney was in her freshman year at Purdue University in Indiana in February 2017 when she fell asleep in her boyfriend’s dorm room. During the night he snuggled up to her in bed in the pitch black, his hand grazing her breast, and they began having sex.

She soon stopped to go to the bathroom and, when she returned, discovered, to her horror, that it wasn’t her boyfriend who was in bed with her.

Was it rape?

Ms. Finney thought so and went to the police, who arrested Donald Grant Ward, the 19-year-old impostor. Mr. Ward, a friend of her boyfriend’s, admitted that he knew he was tricking Ms. Finney; he was charged with two counts of rape, which carries a sentence of three to 16 years.

The Finney family connected with Joyce Short, an activist and sexual assault survivor who runs ConsentAwareness.net. Ms. Short, 70, wants a universal law stating that consent is “freely given, knowledgeable, and informed agreement.” This may sound obvious, but it’s actually not, because there’s no universal definition of consent in the United States. Each state defines it differently, if it defines it at all.

3) So fascinated by and enjoying James Holzhauer’s run on Jeopardy.  Nice NYT interview.  And cannot say I disagree with Drum’s take: “The Key to “Jeopardy!” Is Knowing Lots of Stuff”

As a longtime Jeopardy! fan, my problem with Holzhauer is that I feel like I’m watching a different species play the game. Even with a guy like Ken Jennings, I could sort of fool myself into thinking that I could beat him if I just got a little lucky. But Holzhauer? Forget it. He’d crush me like an ant. His buzzer timing and his board skills are off the charts, which merely masks the fact that he’s also wildly knowledgeable on a wide range of topics. I don’t think there’s been a category yet where he’s shown any serious weakness.

So that’s that. The Jeopardy! folks should probably be thinking about a special two-entity showdown between Holzhauer and IBM’s Watson, since I’m not sure any other human has a chance of beating him.

4) This is interesting, “Tiny Knee Bone, Once Lost in Humans, Is Making a Comeback: The fabella disappeared from our lineage millions of years ago, but over the last century, its presence in people’s knees has become more common.”

5) Criminalizing voter registration drives due to the totally foreseeable human errors involved is so wrong.  And, sadly, so indicative of today’s GOP.

6) The technology to stop spoofed (e.g., fake your area code) calls to your cell phone may actually be on the way.  Hooray!

7) I find it rather intriguing that hockey has the smallest home field advantage of major American professional sports despite that it’s the one sport to give a clear, rules-based advantage to the home team (the timing of line changes during stoppages).  Ended up having a great discussion on the matter when I shared this on FB recently.

8) Great piece from Rebecca Traister asks what changes when the presidential field is full of men:

The tight knot for women in politics (and perhaps in life) has been, will always be, this: Everything associated with motherhood has been coded as faintly embarrassing and less than — from mom jeans to mommy brain to the Resistance. And yet to be a bad mom has been disqualifying, and to not be a mom at all is to be understood as lacking something: gravity, value, femininity. Just this month, Tucker Carlson wondered, about New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whether “someone who’s never even raised children gets the right to lecture me about morality,” as if parents are given a moral compass upon the birth of a child.

Fatherhood for male politicians so far has, for the most part, worked only as a bonus. It’s been a way to show off the shiny white teeth of a strong gene pool and an escape hatch from a job you’re getting fired from — in order to spend more time with your family! It’s been a way for powerful men to signal respect for women without evincing femininity themselves: They are the fathers of daughters, folks. At its best, presenting publicly as a committed father has offered an opportunity for men who otherwise cast themselves as tough and authoritative to demonstrate their tender side.

 

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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