Quick hits (part II– after all)

Ended up with a ton of open tabs this weekend.  So, here’s a late quick hits part II.

1) Is parenthood worse for your happiness than divorce or death of a partner?  The latest research says that at least during the first year of parenthood, this is the case.  In a less busy week, I would’ve read more of this because I am a bit skeptical of such a strong hit (though chronic sleep deprivation surely matters).

2) Fertility clinics destroy embryos all the time (much like an early abortion).  Why aren’t conservatives after them?!  Maybe something like this:

The disparity between how the law treats abortion patients and IVF patients reveals an ugly truth about abortion restrictions: that they are often less about protecting life than about controlling women’s bodies. Both IVF and abortion involve the destruction of fertilized eggs that could potentially develop into people. But only abortion concerns women who have had sex that they don’t want to lead to childbirth. Abortion restrictions use unwanted pregnancy as a punishment for “irresponsible sex” and remind women of the consequences of being unchaste: If you didn’t want to endure a mandatory vaginal ultrasound , you shouldn’t have had sex in the first place .

If anti-choice lawmakers cared as much about protecting life as they did about women having sex, they could promote laws that prevent unwanted pregnancy. Yet the same conservatives who restrict abortion also oppose insurance coverage for contraception and comprehensive sexuality education. They view contraception, like abortion, as a “license” to have non-procreative sex. Women, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee assures us, don’t need contraception — they just need to “control their libido.”

I also think it is largely simply politically untenable to attack fertility clinics (as I’ve mentioned in the case of the Catholic Church leaving the issue alone despite the clear, strong violation of Catholic teaching).

3) Less than a decade ago, Republicans seemingly favored voting rights.  What happened?

4) Hopefully you know about the mindset research of Carol Dweck.  If not, John F. recently shared this excellent summary.  Honestly, I feel like I’ve done pretty well in life for having a fixed mindset.

5) Think it is barbaric to lock human beings in solitary confinement.  Even better, many states regularly do this with juveniles– “for their own protection.”  Certainly not the protection of their sanity.

6) A solid majority of Americans under 50 think they will not get a social security benefit.  That’s nuts.  They will.  At worst, it will be somewhat reduced.  In other news, most Americans under 50 don’t really understand social security or American politics.

7) I cannot even imagine working at Amazon.  Fascinating workplace culture.

8) I doubt that Obama will finish all these books on his vacation.  But I love his love of good books and reading.

9) Should have been a few more, but one of the kids closed all my open tabs– despite repeated admonitions not to do so– and I swear some were missing from my history.

Irony in photos

Had a great visit to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History yesterday with my two museum-loving children (the other two being back in NC with their mom).  That ties for Air & Space as my favorite museum (which we also hit yesterday).  I really enjoyed the new exhibit that was not there last time I visited (maybe 8 years or so ago) on Human evolution, sponsored by science-loving Koch brother, David Koch.


So, first we know that Koch loves evolution despite devoting himself to a political party where running for the presidential nomination means you almost have to say you don’t believe in evolution and a strong plurality seem to believe that humans have always existed in our present form (you might as well deny gravity).

Meanwhile, the exhibit was quite upfront about climate change and the issues it poses for humanity


It’s clear that David Koch’s goal is to do whatever makes the most money for Koch Industries, and he clearly believes that comes from Republican government, but I hope he at least has a little cognitive dissonance over matters such as this.

Photo of the day

I’m vacating today, but you at least get a cool photo.  This is real and awesome:

This image shows the far side of the moon, illuminated by the sun, as it crosses between the DSCOVR spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) camera and telescope, and the Earth – one million miles away.
Credits: NASA/NOAA

Quick hits (part II)

1) I’m quite comfortable with the “native advertising” in many of the podcasts I listen to.  These are great podcasts and they’ve got to pay the bills and I’m sure I’m not alone in paying more attention to the ads when done in a clever way.  To say that this breaks down the wall of journalism and editorial certainly seems like a stretch in the podcasts I enjoy (Panopoly/Slate and Gimlet) and the idea that listeners cannot understand they are hearing a paid ad is ridiculous.

2) The NYT got it really wrong in a recent story about a supposed “criminal” investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.  Josh Marshall takes apart their defense.

3) Really enjoyed reading this ranking of all 74 Led Zeppelin songs.  Very much put me in the mood for listening to my CD box set.  I heartily agree with Kashmir at #1.  My biggest dispute is “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?” way down in the 40’s.  That song was extra special back before you could get any song anywhere because it wasn’t even on any of their albums.  And it’s awesome.

4) On the surface, it may seem perfectly reasonable to not have Medicare cover erectile dysfunction, but if you stop and think about how important proper sexual functioning is for human happiness, this is really not right.

5) The Tech world is coming to value liberal arts degrees.

6) The Solar System is really big and this video is really cool, but not for 45 minutes.

7) Found this story fascinating on how Perdue is trying to gain a competitive advantage by moving to large-scale antibiotic free chickens.  The key to their approach?  A massive focus on cleanliness.  That’s right, keep everything sterile and clean; chickens don’t get sick, and you don’t need all the antibiotics.  Hopefully, this approach will catch on across the whole industry.

SALISBURY, Md. — The floors are spotless in Hatchery 3 on the sprawling Perdue compound here. Doors have been rehung to open out, and temperature control and ventilation systems have been upgraded, all to minimize the potential for airborne contamination.

The 1.5 million eggs that arrive here each week to begin the process of becoming the company’s chicken supply are also clean, with none of the traces of feces or feathers that were common in the past. They will move into chambers that are disinfected daily with hydrogen peroxide during the 21-day incubation-and-hatching cycle, a more rigorous program. No human hand will touch the eggs during those three weeks.

It took Perdue roughly a decade to perfect the raising of chickens without antibiotics of any kind, and now it has reached a tipping point: More than half of the chicken it sells can be labeled “no antibiotics ever,” a first for a major poultry company.

8) Vox with a teacher with a list of 7 things he wishes others understood about being a teacher.

9) Meant to give this it’s own post for too long.  A great, enraged Dahlia Lithwick on a case in Virginia where a clearly innocent man was prosecuted, convicted, and served years in jail before the prosecutor sort-of admitted the case was crap:

Deirdre Enright, director of investigation for the University of Virginia School of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic (disclosure: and a friend of mine), notes that this is where the idea of justice got confused with the promise of winning. As she says, “Lunsford appears to have learned in the middle of her case against Mark that the ‘victim’s’ cell phone tower records contradicted the victim’s version of events, and corroborated the defendant’s. Leaving aside the fact that a competent prosecutor is not learning the underlying facts of her case mid-trial, this was the kind of exculpatory evidence that would cause a fair prosecutor, honoring her obligation to seek and serve justice, to dismiss the charge. Instead, she successfully argued against their admissibility in court. In the wrongful conviction world, the nicest description we have for this phenomenon is ‘tunnel vision.’ ” …

And perhaps that’s the problem right there: Facing a mountain of evidence that showed there was no way the alleged victim could be telling the truth, the prosecutor believed her, then believed her, and then believed her some more…

If anyone suggests that the fact that Mark Weiner was released this week means “the system works,” I fear that I will have to punch him in the neck. Because at every single turn, the system that should have worked to consider proof of Weiner’s innocence failed him. [emphasis mine]

10) The super-important Voting Rights trial in NC (this could very well have national implications and could also very well work it’s way up to the Supreme Court) is now in the hands of the judge.

11) Loved this Will Saletan piece on Republicans and the Iran deal:

If Republicans win the White House next year, they’ll almost certainly control the entire federal government. Many of them, running for president or aspiring to leadership roles in Congress, are trying to block the nuclear deal with Iran. This would be a good time for these leaders to show that they’re ready for the responsibilities of national security and foreign policy. Instead, they’re showing the opposite. Over the past several days, congressional hearings on the deal have become a spectacle of dishonesty, incomprehension, and inability to cope with the challenges of a multilateral world. [emphasis mine] …

There’s plenty more I could quote to you. But out of mercy, and in deference to the many dead and retired Republicans who took foreign policy seriously, I’ll stop. This used to be a party that saw America’s leadership of the free world as its highest responsibility. What happened? And why should any of us entrust it with the presidency again?

12) Yes, crows are pretty damn smart.


You are an experiment

Loved James Hamblin on the misguided-ness of GMO labeling.  Here’s his awesome conclusion:

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.

It’s because of this meaninglessness, and fear perpetuated by a “natural” food industry, that a right to know is in this case a right to be misled. And this act continues to give food companies the right to tout and sell “GMO-free” as some halo of wholesome virtue, which would be lovely and elegant if it meant progress toward sustainably feeding the world healthful food, but it does not.

Chipotle thinks I’m stupid

Not just me, of course, all their customers.  Mmmm, do I love me some carnitas (and barbacoa when responsibly-raised pork is not available), but I really do resent their new non-GMO position. Ronald Bailey deconstructs its wrongness:

Chipotle offers three “key reasons” for rejecting genetically modified ingredients. The first: “We don’t believe the scientific community has reached a consensus on the long-term implications of widespread GMO cultivation and consumption.” As evidence for this statement, the company notes that “in October 2013 a group of about 300 scientists from around the world signed a statement rejecting the claim that there is a scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs for human consumption.” Three hundred whole scientists!

So who are these GMO rejecters? The cited statement was issued by a notorious anti-biotech claque, the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility. Signers included people who have made whole punditry careers out of anti-biotech rhetoric, such as Charles Benbrook, Vandana Shiva, and Gilles-Eric Seralini. Benbrook regularly (and incorrectly) claims that planting biotech crops has boosted pesticide applications; Vandana Shiva lies about biotech crop failures causing farmer suicides in India; Seralini produced a bogus study in 2013 that claimed that rats fed biotech corn developed breast cancer. (The study was later retracted.)

The plain fact is that every independent scientific body that has ever evaluated the safety of modern biotech crops has deemed them safe for human beings to eat. This includes the Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and many more…

Chipotle’s third “key reason” is that the restaurant “should be a place where people can eat food made with non-GMO ingredients.” Why? The company states, “In our quest to serve the best ingredients, we decided to remove the few GMOs in our food so that our customers who choose to avoid them can enjoy eating at Chipotle.” Basically, this is a marketing ploy aimed at appealing to customers who have been bamboozled into thinking that biotech is bad. The customer is always right, even when they are wrong…

Private companies like Chipotle have the right to try to sell whatever they want. But they cannot claim that they are acting with integrity.

Yep.  Of course, I’ll still (mostly) happily eat my Chipotle meals because I still love that their are committed to less inhumane (not quite sure I want to go as far as “humane”) meat and their food is so damn good.  If I stopped using the products of a corporation every time they did something I disagreed with or insulted my intelligence, I might as well live in a cave eating my own gathered food.

Photo of the day

Humans first set on the moon 46 years ago today.  Great In Focus gallery:
  After liftoff from the Moon, the lunar module approaches CSM for docking, with earthrise in background.


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