Quick hits (part II)

1) A better way to prevent young Muslim men in the West from being radicalized?

2) Republicans are all about how state and local government is better.  Except when the local government wants to do something the radical conservatives in charge of state governments disapprove of.

3) Give your babies some peanuts!  Among other things, a really interesting case on what has been the conventional medical wisdom for a number of years appears to have been 180 degrees wrong.

4) So, maybe the universe had no beginning at all?  Sure, I can wrap my head around that.

5) Personally, I’m so annoyed at all the feminists picking on Patricia Arquette for making a statement for equal pay for women at the Oscars.  Amanda Marcotte’s complaints strike me as exactly what’s wrong with feminism.  For one, I agree with Arquette’s implicit complaint that liberal politics has been too focused on identity politics and not enough bread-and-butter economic issues.

6) I had no idea China was trying to fund a canal through Nicaragua.  Sounds like an absolutely epic boondoggle.

7) Excellent piece from Nate Cohn reminding us that Republicans in blue states are actually really important.

The blue-state Republicans make it far harder for a very conservative candidate to win the party’s nomination than the party’s reputation suggests. They also give a candidate who might seem somewhat out of touch with today’s Republican Party, like Jeb Bush, a larger base of potential support than is commonly thought.

It’s easy to forget about the blue-state Republicans. They’re all but extinct in Washington, since their candidates lose general elections to Democrats, and so officials elected by states and districts that supported Mr. Romney dominate the Republican Congress.

But the blue-state Republicans still possess the delegates, voters and resources to decide the nomination. In 2012, there were more Romney voters in California than in Texas, and in Chicago’s Cook County than in West Virginia. Mr. Romney won three times as many voters in overwhelmingly Democratic New York City than in Republican-leaning Alaska.

Overall, 59 percent of Romney voters in the Republican primaries lived in the states carried by President Obama.

8) I didn’t know about the Siberian crater problem and it’s connection to global warming.  Fascinating.

9) Speaking of Russia, enjoyed this take on the murder of Boris Nemtsov.

10) We all take spreadsheets for granted these days, but they really are a pretty amazing invention.  Loved this Planet Money story.

11) The Republican plan for fighting ISIS is amazingly similar to…. what Obama is actually doing.

12) Great Jon Stewart clip on all the hate from Fox on the announcement of his leaving the show.

13) Maria Konnikova on the dangers of leaning in.

14) Ezra Klein once again reminding us that moderates are not actually moderate at all.

15) On how the color blue is actually a recent innovation.  Seriously.  Loved the Radiolab referenced in this post.

16) All the evidence you need for the existence of white privilege.

17) I so hate the Food Babe.  I’ve been meaning to write my own post disparaging her, but I’ve fallen short.  These two do a great job.

18) I was quite amused at how shocked my stepmother was at Christmas-time when we explained we don’t bathe our kids every night.  You would have thought we said we have them sleep outside in the winter.  Of course, there’s absolutely no reason you need to bathe children every day.  (Of course, now that David is a teenager he will definitely develop a smell if he goes too long).

19) Lolita is one of my favorite books ever.  Enjoyed this piece on it for being one of the Guardian’s top 100 novels.  I came across it when “Vladimir Nabokov” surprisingly posted the link in my FB feed.

Most popular dogs

Obviously, someone over at Wonkblog is into dog statistics lately.  I gotta admit, I find the matter pretty interesting myself.  I love this infographic of how the most popular dog breeds have changed over the past 20 years.  Most notable to me is the Rottweiler bubble.  They came from out of nowhere to get super-popular in the 1980’s (and into the 90’s where this graphic starts), but thy dropped off like a lead balloon.  Also, I gotta agree with America’s judgement here at the top as I love both Labradors and German Shepherds (larger image here).

Quick hits

1) While everybody has been complaining about the silliness of the dress being black/blue or gold/white, the truth is, this really is a fascinating case of the ambiguities of human color perception.  David Pogue’s take was my favorite.  And a good one in Wired, too.

The really crazy part for me is that on Friday morning this was totally white and I could not even imagine how it could be blue.  Then Friday afternoon when I showed my kids, it was blue.  Friday night, it was white again.  As of this later Friday night writing, it’s back to blue again.  Try as I might, I cannot see it as the dingy white I did just two hours ago.  Argh!  Crazy and awesome.

2) Not generally a big fan of Maureen Dowd, but she’s exactly right to question Jeb’s decision-making in relying on all his brother’s worst advisers.  Paul Wolfowitz– seriously?!

3) Our nation’s way over-reliance on solitary confinement truly is a national shame.

4) Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members is literally one of the funniest books I’ve read in years.  I read it in a day (can’t remember the last time I did that) and laughed out loud a bunch while I was reading it.

5) Really liked this take on David Carr’s death and the stigma of lung cancer.

6) I so hate the twitter guardians of decency who seem to take such pleasure in ruining lives.  Absolute worst part of the Lindsey Stone case was how the morons basically had no sense of humor or context.  Horrible and pathetic.

7) How twin studies show that whether you believe in God or not, is significantly genetic.

8) Enjoyed this story on Dianne Rehm’s advocacy in the Right to Die movement.

9) I think Scott Walker’s moronic comments that he’s ready to face down ISIS because he faced down public employee unions mostly just show that he’s not ready for primetime (of which we’ve had ample evidence of late).  Plus, there’s something about the set of his eyes that just seems wrong to me.

10) Will Saletan on how Obama should more forthrightly call out Republicans.  Not going to happen, but it’s nice to think about:

Please. If we’re going to start calling out religious and political groups for extremism, we could start at home with Republicans. Too many of them spew animus. Too many foment sectarianism. Too many sit by, or make excuses, as others appeal to tribalism. If Obama were to treat them the way they say he should treat Islam—holding the entire faith accountable for its ugliest followers—they’d squeal nonstop about slander and demagogy. They’re lucky that’s not his style.

11) Found this NYT story utterly fascinating about two French babies switched at birth and how they stayed with their non-biological families when the error was learned many years later.

12) St Louis is a great example of what goes wrong when a metropolitan area has too many local governments.

13) I’ve only watched three episodes of House of Cards and that’s all it will likely ever be.  As Alyssa Rosenberg writes, it insults our intelligence.  Also, from what I’ve seen it has basically no sense of humor (which is decidedly not the case from other great dramas of recent times).

14) If the Supreme Court actually makes the transparently political and nakedly partisan decision to strike down Obamacare subsidies, this could actually put Republicans in a real jam.

15) Our system of elected judges is truly one of the worst parts of the American system of government.  Easy pickings, of course, for John Oliver.

Chart of the day: small dogs

Interesting post from Wonkblog on the rise of small dogs.  The numbers are pretty amazing.  Here’s the key chart:

dogs

 

Wonkblog explains this all as a function of urbanization, but there’s no way that’s near enough to account for this very substantial shift:

Why are America’s pet lovers choosing to raise smaller and smaller dogs?

The clearest reason is likely tied to the national migration to urban areas. Almost 80 percent of the country now lives in cities and their surrounding areas,  where space is harder to come by. It’s of little coincidence that big dogs are much more popular in the south, where land is more plentiful.

“Smaller homes and apartments are helping drive the growing popularity of smaller dogs,” Damian Shore, an analyst at market-research firm Euromonitor, told Quartz last year.

Maybe in part, but I don’t need to do any googling to tell you that the rate of urbanization is absolutely nowhere near the change in preference for smaller dogs.  Clearly, there’s cultural factors at play.

And here’s where I risk offending my readers by sharing my bias against small dogs.  I think a lot of people just naturally think smaller dogs are better for smaller living space, but that’s simply not true.  In my experience, smaller dogs are far more likely to be hyper-active and barky.  The smaller your home, the more annoying that is.  That matters more than the fact that a Labrador takes up a couple more square feet when they’re lying down.  In fact, my current dog, Bennie (about 45 pound Golden mix), is by far my least favorite because he seems to have too much of the small dog personality (actually, he lies around the house peacefully, but he’s so annoying outside around other people and dogs).  Anyway, this is one trend I will not be joining.  Kim, in fact, would love for us to have a Great Dane some day (personally, I’m a little scared of the volume of poop coming out of dog that big).

Chart of the day

This was an Economist Chart of the day back in 2013, but I just discovered it.  Anyway, it is countries ranked by population in 1950, currently, and estimated population in 2050.  Pretty cool.

The face of NC State (sort of)

A favorite student of mine was seriously procrastinating by taking the NC State Virtual Tour.  And what did he hit upon?

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 12.13.54 AM

That’s right, your’s truly jogging through campus on what appears to be a lovely day last Spring.  I had no idea at all this photo was taken or that I made it into the virtual tour (lawsuit?!).  Alas, there’s no direct link, but clicking on Jordan Hall on the left column and then making a left turn gets you there.

Quick hits

1) Never thought about it this way, but makes so much sense.  All the vitamins we add to our processed food allow us to hide what low quality so much of the food is.

2) How your gut bacteria affects your immune system.  I’d like to thing mine is why I stay so healthy (and I attribute a healthy gut microbiome to lots of fruits and vegetables).

3) How the FDA is failing to keep us safe by hiding/ignoring evidence from bad drug trials.

4) Roy Moore is a self-aggrandizing, Constitution-ignoring jerk of a judge.  That said, Emily Bazelon explains how is gay marriage decision is not as crazy as it’s been made out to be.

5) The near-death of Monticello (I really need to take my kids there) and why we shouldn’t be leaving national treasures to the private marketplace.

6) This Atlantic cover story on ISIS is really thought-provoking.  Highly recommended reading.  On the shorter side, just maybe ISIS might collapse of it’s own failure to expand.

7) How often do people in various countries shower.  Too much, probably:

Cleanliness, it turns out, has been one dirty trick. One reason early-20th-century Americans ramped up their weekly baths to daily showers is that marketing companies capitalized on the insecurities of a new class of office drones working in close quarters. As Gizmodo wrote last week, to sell products like “toilet soap” and Listerine to Americans, “the advertising industry had to create pseudoscientific maladies like ‘bad breath’ and ‘body odor.'”

True.  That said, body odor is most definitely real and I prefer not to be around it.

8) Crows are even smarter than we thought (and reminds me of one of my all time favorite quotes on the matter).

9) I didn’t even watch the Super Bowl half-time show, but I think this Diary of the Left Shark is simply brilliant.  I laughed out loud several times while reading it.

10) When given the chance to weigh in, juries are much less punitive than many sentencing recommendations.  Maybe legislators need to re-think things.

11) What a wonderful tribute from one great journalist, TNC, to another, the passed away all too soon this week, David Carr.

12) At least Oliver Sacks has made it into his 80’s before contracting terminal cancer.  I think I was a teenager when I first read a Sacks book and I’ve read a ton.  I so love his infectious enthusiasm for understanding and sharing his understanding of the human brain.

13) On a happier note, this collection of best Robot Chicken clips is brilliant.  If you’ve never seen the one with Darth Vader calling the Emperor about the destruction of the Death Star, stop what you are doing and watch now.

14) Good for Walmart for raising it’s wages, but don’t pretend it’s anything other than good business in the current market:

The second reason for the raise is less specific to Walmart. The American economy’s recovery in the past few years has led to an increase in the number of jobs and a decrease in the unemployment rate—both of which mean that companies will have to start paying their employees more in order to get them to stick around.

From this perspective, Walmart’s decision is a selfish one: The company realized that it could hire workers at $7 an hour, but couldn’t hold on to them unless wages were bumped up. Aetna, Ikea, and The Gap have all come to similar conclusions. “I would expect to see many other small and large firms do the same,” Bloom says.

15) Eric Posner on just how wrong the decision to overturn Obama’s immigration action is.  It would be really, really surprising if this is not overturned at the appellate level.  Ruth Marcus takes it to the judge who ruled on the case.

16) My latest time-suck?  The oh-so-perfectly named, Trivia Crack.

17) One of my great embarrasssments of my acadmemic life is the paper I wrote on Andrew Johnson for my AP US History course.  I relied entirely too much on a source by an apologist for Johnson.  I think I got an A.  One of the reasons I really don’t like giving college credit for High School classes.  A short Slate video on why Johnson was a horrible president.

18) After the latest climbing tragedy Everest’s most dangerous route is now off limits.  Of all the things that I have read about, the Kumbu Ice Falls has totally stuck with me.  And my wife, too.  Thanks to Into Thin Air.  

19) Herbal supplements are barely regulated at all because Congress made that a policy choice.  Is it any wonder that they are full of false claims and false ingredients.

20) I’m so getting this for my next Iphone.

21) Nate Cohn on why Hillary really is a prohibitive favorite of historical proportions.

22) For a huge Seinfeld fan like me, this “What if Elaine Benes had Instagram” collection was super-entertaining.

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