Infographic of the day

From a recent Vox post on antiobiotic resistance:

For a new Lancet series on superbugs, researchers visualized the various modifiable drivers of antibiotic resistance. As you can see, they found that human antibiotic misuse and overuse was one of the single biggest contributors. It was followed only by the abuse of antibiotics in agriculture [emphasis mine] (another big problem that you can read about here).

Antibiotics and your microbiome

This research is too close to my heart to leave for quick hits:

The study, recently published in mBio, found that just one weeklong course of antibiotics changed participants’ gut microbiomes, with the effects sometimes lasting as long as a year. After all, antibiotics don’t discriminate—as they attack the bad bacteria, the good ones are vulnerable too.

In a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial at two centers (one in the United Kingdom, one in Sweden), researchers gave participants one of four commonly-prescribed antibiotics—clindamycin, ciprofloxacin, minocycline, and amoxicillin—or a placebo. They checked on participants’ oral and gut microbiomes by analyzing the bacteria present in their saliva and feces before the experiment (to get a baseline), right after the week of antibiotics, and one, two, four, and 12 months afterward.

The effects varied depending on which antibiotic the person took, but generally, while the oral microbiome bounced back pretty quickly, some of the bacteria in the intestines suffered a crushing blow. People who took clindamycin and ciprofloxacin saw a decrease in types of bacteria that produce butyrate, a fatty acid that lowers oxidative stress and inflammation in the intestines. The reduced microbiome diversity for clindamycin-takers lasted up to four months; for some who took ciprofloxacin, it was still going on at the 12-month check-up. (Amoxicillin, on the plus side, seemed to have no significant effect on either the oral or gut microbiome, and minocycline-takers were back to normal at the one-month check-up.)

What’s more, the researchers found that while “both study populations carried antibiotic-resistance genes in their oral and gut microbiomes” before the study began, genetic analyses revealed the presence of more of these genes after people had taken the antibiotics.

“Clearly,” the study reads, “even a single antibiotic treatment in healthy individuals contributes to the risk of resistance development and leads to long-lasting detrimental shifts in the gut microbiome.”

Obviously, antibiotics save lives, but we need to be much more careful with when and how we use them.  On the bright side, it was good to see the minimal impact of amoxicllin– far and away the antibiotic my kids have been prescribed the most (and also on the bright side for my kids, it’s been a long time since any of them have needed an antibiotic).

Quick hits

Sorry for being a blogger failure this week.  Turns out that two job candidates, plus a mid-week trip to the zoo, plus a hockey game, plus a piano concert leave little time left for blogging.

Nothing to say on France yet, other than damn it’s horrible and I sure hate those damn Islamic extremists.  Ugh.

1) It almost seems like the Starbucks Christmas cup imbroglio is something created by liberals to embarrass conservatives for looking like morons.  Are there really people out there all freaked out about this?  Oh, yes.

2) Always go to the funeral.  Good advice.

3) Loved Mike Pesca’s spiel on Common Core math in this gist podcast.  He rightly points out that a lot of parental complaints come down to “I didn’t have to do this.”  Yes, it can be frustrating at times, but is it truly rational to believe that math education should be frozen in time exactly like you learned it?  Common Core math is not some communist plot.  It’s a plot from professors of math education.

4) Don’t like what dissertation research might find?  Well, if you are a Republican State Senator in Missouri, you try to block it.  Yikes.

5) Loved Todd VanDerWerff’s fascinating deconstruction of Peanuts.

6) George Will as had enough of Bill O’Reilly.  Though I wonder if his vitriolic take on Killing Reagan would still be there if his wife was not a Reagan adviser..

7) The Republican debates as socialism.

8) Dave Roberts pushes back on my (though, not me in particular, of course) on Keystone.

It is also ludicrous to imagine that the primary goal of climate activist campaigns is to reduce emissions. It would be like criticizing the Montgomery bus boycott because it only affected a relative handful of black people. The point of civil rights campaigns was not to free black people from discriminatory systems one at a time. It was to change the culture. “Keystone isn’t a perfect battlefield,” wrote Michael Grunwald, “but neither was Selma or Stonewall.” …

This also follows from the first two. If the metric of success is emission reductions, and emission reductions from supply-side fights are uncertain, then there’s no point in fighting supply-side projects.

This assumes that emission reductions are the sole reason to go after the supply side, and thereby, I think, fundamentally misses what activists are trying to do. It’s not to reduce emissions, one project at a time. It’s to change culture.

Great points.  And more on this soon, but I’m so tired of liberals not making this argument, but rather fallacious policy arguments like we expect from conservatives on tax cuts.

9) Supreme Court pretty comfortable with police shooting into a car despite an imminent threat.

10) Do you know about CRISPR? (DNA modification).  This is really, really going to change the world.  Nice Wired story.  And a great Radiolab from earlier this year.

11) John Kasich— only “moderate” because of the radical extremists you are comparing him to.

12) Boxing’s brutality is surely a big part of it’s gradual disappearance.  Could football be next?

13) Jamelle Bouie on the Republican debate:

Moreover—and more importantly for the politics of economic growth—the Republican candidates were silent on one of the key questions of the 2016 election. “The Democrats will inevitably ask you and voters to compare the recent presidents’ jobs performance,” said moderator Gerard Baker to Carly Fiorina. “In seven years under President Obama, the U.S. has added an average of 107,000 jobs per month. Under Clinton, the economy added about 240,000 per month; under George W. Bush, it was only 13,000 a month. If you win the nomination, you will probably be facing a Democrat named Clinton. How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?”

Fiorina dodged the question. She didn’t have an answer. And neither did anyone else on the stage. Later, moderator Maria Bartiromo threw Rubio a softball on Hillary Clinton. “Why should the American people trust you to lead this country even though she has been so much closer to the office?” His answer was smooth—“[I]f I am our nominee, they’ll be the party of the past”—but it ignored this basic question of economic performance.

This is a problem. Barring disaster, President Obama will finish his term with a growing economy. Republicans need to show Americans that they can do better—that they can deliver growth and resources to the people who need them. Otherwise, little else matters. The Democratic nominee will inherit the Obama economy and prevail.


Quick hits (part II)

1) College campus PC-liberalism amok takes on Halloween.  Prominently at Yale.

2) How Democrats also pass laws that intentionally lead to lower turnout.

3) If we are always short of nurses are we really short of nurses?

4) There’s now some interesting research on how poor people can really benefit by living in mixed income communities.  But now, some research on how it is extra tough for poor teenage boys who live near rich neighborhoods.

5) So tired of prosecutors abusing their discretion– statutory rape edition.

6) Paul Waldman on Ben Carson:

Ben Carson’s ideas about things like the pyramids, combined with what he has said about other more immediate topics, suggest not only that his beliefs are impervious to evidence but also an alarming lack of what we might call epistemological modesty. It isn’t what he doesn’t know that’s the problem, it’s what he doesn’t realize that he doesn’t know. He thinks that all the archeologists who have examined the pyramids just don’t know what they’re talking about, because Joseph had to put all that grain somewhere. He thinks that after reading something about the second law of thermodynamics, he knows more about the solar system than the world’s physicists do. He thinks that after hearing a Glenn Beck rant about the evils of Islam, he knows as much about a 1,400-year-old religion as any theologian and can confidently say why no Muslim who doesn’t renounce his faith could be president.

So what happens when President Carson gets what he thinks is a great idea, and a bunch of “experts” tell him it would actually be a disaster? What’s he going to do?

7) Chait argues that he seems to be more into running a book tour/ brand building exercise than a presidential campaign.

Carson is doing a lot of things that seem puzzling for a presidential campaign, but quite logical for a brand-building exercise. He is taking weeks off the campaign trail to go on a book tour. His campaign itself is structured much more like a scamming venture than a political one. An astronomical 69 percent of his fund-raising totals are spent on more fund-raising. (Bernie Sanders, by contrast, spends just 4 percent of his intake on fund-raising.) In addition to direct mail, Carson seems to have undertaken a massive phone-spamming operation. Spending most of your money to raise more money is not a good way to get elected president, but it is a good way to build a massive list of supporters that can later be monetized.

8) Hillary has a staffer with an arrest for using drugs.  The NY Post thinks you should care.

8b) Meanwhile Bill O’Reilly thinks it is a good idea to just execute all drug offenders.

9) Really enjoyed this Slate piece on Scalia on statutory interpretation in a child pornography case.


10) Why do so many incompetent men become leaders?  Because people mistake confidence for competence.

11) People who insist they need showy public prayer are so annoying.  And when they are HS coaches, they are so wrong.

12) Yglesias makes a strong case for easy debate questions.


13) Some nice perspective on diet and exercise and our environment from someone who recently lost 100 pounds.

14) Seth Masket says don’t count out Jeb just yet.

15) Pretty fascinating profile of a far-right conservative talk radio host and how his crazy listeners keep pushing him further to the right.

16) Math vs. Marco Rubio via Chait:

That means the brunt of Rubio’s fiscal pressure would come to bear on the minority of the federal budget that goes directly to the poor.

This is how Republican budget logic works in general. When you add up fanatical opposition to higher revenue, a political need to protect current retirees and a commitment to higher defense spending, you wind up either blowing up the budget deficit or inflicting massive harm on the poor. There are different ways to handle that problem. One of them is the Paul Ryan–circa-2011 plan of just proposing enormous cuts in anti-poverty programs. Another is the Paul Ryan–circa-2014-to-the-present plan of keeping those cuts in the budget but insisting they’re not your actual ideas.

Then you have the Rubio-Dubya method. The downside of this plan is that you don’t get Ryan-esque praise as a serious budget hawk who’s willing to look America square in the eyeball and tell us hard truths. But liberating yourself from any pretense to obeying the laws of arithmetic provides certain upsides that seem profitable for Rubio.

17) University of Missouri Law School social media policy is nuts!

18) We need too massively decarcerate.

So, the story is straightforward: America has simply created a tremendous capacity to convict and incarcerate its citizens. And, we continue to do so even though violence has declined dramatically. Prosecutors have more beds to fill and they are doing so, and as a result more arrestees find themselves serving prison sentences than ever before. And some of them may be innocent.

19) Really cool story on the emergence of the Coyolf as a new species


20) Say what you will about fast food, but a lot of the companies are taking some important steps towards a less horrible industrial food system.  Most everybody but Yum! foods, that is.  Not coincidentally, I used to love Taco Bell when I was a teenage male, but it’s probably been at least 15 years since I’ve eaten there.

The simplest explanation, however, is that Taco Bell hasn’t followed the industry because it doesn’t have to. Its customers are young, like those of its competitors, but they are predominantly male, which, according to Technomic’s 2015 food trend report, means they’re less likely to care about animal welfare.  They also aren’t quite as affluent as those who frequent other chain’s, which, Tristano points out, likely means they are more price sensitive.

“The lower you get down the price points, the more your consumer has to prefer lower prices to better animal welfare rights,” he said. “So I think it’s also reflection of how Taco Bell’s customers feel.”

21) Nice Vox article from Lee Drutman on the reinforcing feedback loop of inequality and Republican electoral success.  Read it.

Quick hits (part I)

A little late today.  Sorry.

1) The psychology behind conspiracy theories.

2) Bats are awesome.

3) Krugman on the favorable historical record on Democrats and the economy:

But Americans overwhelmingly believe that the wealthy pay less than their fair share of taxes, and even Republicans are closely divided on the issue. And the public wants to see Social Security expanded, not cut. So how can a politician sell the tax-cut agenda? The answer is, by promising those miracles, by insisting that tax cuts on high incomes would both pay for themselves and produce wonderful economic gains.

Hence the asymmetry between the parties. Democrats can afford to be cautious in their economic promises precisely because their policies can be sold on their merits. Republicans must sell an essentially unpopular agenda by confidently declaring that they have the ultimate recipe for prosperity — and hope that nobody points out their historically poor track record.

And if someone does point to that record, you know what they’ll do: Start yelling about media bias.

4) When Gmail writes your emails for you.  Good stuff.

5) Of course (and sadly) there’s a flight of good teachers from North Carolina.

6) The overly busy modern family.  Happy to report the Greene’s are doing just fine.

The data highlight the complicated trade-offs that working families make.

Forty-one percent of working mothers said being a parent made it harder to advance in their careers, compared with 20 percent of fathers. Men’s careers took priority more often than women’s did, though the majority said they were equal. Fathers earned more than mothers in half of full-time working families, the same as mothers in about a quarter and less than mothers in a quarter.

The ways parents spend their time at home have changed markedly over the years. Government time-use data show that parents over all do less housework and spend more time with their children than they used to.

The time men spend on paid work has decreased to 38.5 hours a week from 42 hours in 1965, while the time they spend on housework has doubled to 8.8 hours and the time they spend on child care has tripled to over seven hours.

Still, women do much more, especially when it comes to the tasks of raising a child, like managing their schedules and taking care of them when they are sick, according to Pew. Fathers and mothers are much more likely to equally share in doing household chores, disciplining children and playing with them.

There is a gender divide in parents’ perceptions of how much responsibility they take on, Pew found. Fifty-six percent of fathers say they share equally, while only 46 percent of mothers agree.

7) Year round daylight savings will keep us safer and save lives.  Seriously.  Count me in.

8) Did we just legalize insider trading?  For some insiders.

9) Is America back where it was 100 years ago.  The case for yes.  (Strikes me as too extreme).

10) Shame on NC University English departments for not teaching enough courses about British and American male authors!

11) You know how I feel about guns.  But when you commit a robbery with a fake gun that looks like a real gun, you have just forfeited your right to life in my book.

12) Seth Myers on how an anti-discrimination statute in Houston went down because the opponents scared everybody over bathrooms.  Definitely worth a watch.

13) Sure there’s some older children s books that are racist and sexist (none of which ever made it to me in my 1970’s early childhood), but does this article then have to go on and insinuate that the lack of non-white male protagonists is “racist” and “sexist”?  I read lots of my old favorites to my kids and I’ve yet to come across a book that made me squirm out of outdated racism of sexism (hopefully that doesn’t make me a racist/sexist).  In fact, I’ve been reading The Sneetches a lot lately.  One of my favorites as a kid and now.  And hard to imagine a more anti-racist story out there.

13b) On a totally different note, Drum says save the calls for racism and sexism for stuff that actually is.

14) Kevin Drum creates his own chart of candidate honesty.

15) Of course there’s actually very good reasons why we should raise the age at which we try people as adults.

16) I’ve found the Adaptors podcast to be a bit hit in miss in terms of quality, but I loved this one on what the world would be like if rats took over as the dominant species.

17) As long as I’m talking podcasts, really loved this episode of Start Up that explained and demonstrated the carefully-crafted podcast approach that is also the basis for TAL, Radiolab, etc.  And really helped me understand why some of the less crafted podcasts can be so frustrating to listen to.

18) The Economist explains how treating travelers well is bad for airline business.

19) The fascinating case of intersex children in Salinas, Dominican Republic.

20 Garrett Epps on the first amendment.

But we pay a price for this freedom, and not everyone pays the price equally. The First Amendment imposes on us all the duty to maintain the peace even when our deepest beliefs are denounced. But that duty is doubly onerous for minorities, because they must endure such abuse more often and longer.

In a country that is 70 percent Christian, Muslims account for less than one percent of the population. Since 9/11, powerful religious and political figures have been openly campaigning to strip this tiny population of the protections of the Constitution.

21) What “death to Americareally means.

22) We’ve actually got death panels now (hooray– this is actually great policy).  Nobody seems to have noticed.

23) The history of jaywalking.  More complicated and political than you might think.  I came very close to getting a jaywalking ticket from an MP at the Pentagon once, but got off with a very stern warning.

24) Damn was that bombing of the Doctors without Borders hospital horrible and a massive screw-up.  Some heads really need to roll for this.

25) Now this is how you score a goal.

We’re all going to die!

Thank God we don’t actually leave policy at all related to science up to ordinary Americans.  A recent Pew study found that a substantial majority of Americans believe that foods grown with pesticides are “unsafe to eat.”  Really?  In that case the average American should probably go ahead and throw out most of their food.  (Not to mention, of course, the non-scientific beliefs about GMO food also in this report, but I’ve covered that plenty).  For some reason, the Pew report was interested in this in a religious context, so the chart is broken down that way:

More Black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics Say Foods Grown With Pesticides Are Unsafe

There’s lots more science policy-related questions (GMO, vaccinations, animal research, etc.) in there worth taking a look at, but I was most struck by the idea that Americans believe that foods they eat every single day are actually unsafe.  Now, of course, there’s actually plenty to be concerned about with pesticides and we should take these risks seriously, but if this is true (another reason to not quite trust public opinion) most Americans are either 1) comfortable eating food every day that they actually consider unsafe, or 2) think pesticides are unsafe,  but don’t actually care enough to be aware that much of the food they eat is grown with pesticides.  There are those, of course, who are rigorously organic, but that is obviously a very small portion of the population.

Quick hits

1) Great Rolling Stone article on the Freedom Caucus.  Gives a really full and nuanced picture of these radicals.

2) Will Saletan with among the better takes on the Benghazi hearings.  And a good take from John Cassidy.

3) Not only most powerful hurricane ever measured, but reaching the theoretical limits of hurricane strength.  Amazing.

4) And a good Politco piece on the Freedom Caucus:


There hasn’t been a bloc like the Freedom Caucus for at least a century, one that refuses to work with its own party leadership while being steadfastly unwilling to reach across the aisle. “There have been groups that often broke from the party, but in doing so, they didn’t stand as a third force,” says former GOP Rep. Mickey Edwards. “This group is very different.”

The Freedom Caucus, rather than breaking from Republican ranks, has forced Republican leaders to break from them. It’s a perverse sort of political jujitsu. One of outgoing Speaker John Boehner’s supposed crimes was that he went begging Democrats for help passing legislation when he couldn’t find the votes within his own caucus. Some rank-and-file Republicans, meanwhile, have made a separate peace with Democrats on reviving the Export-Import Bank. Normally the opposite would happen and it would be the insurgents reaching across the aisle. But that presupposes an interest in governing.

5) Seth Masket on why we should not be asking “who won?” after debates.

6) I must say, I agree with google on this.  I hate the idea of an app for every stupid website you want to go to.  Just give me a goo mobile website.

7) A James Hamblin video on our meatless future.  I really do think this is going to happen.  It’s just chemistry.

8) Weight Watchers might be doomed by all the free weight loss apps, but I still love it for basing it’s diet around choice and actual scientifically-based weight loss principles.  We’ll see if Oprah can save it.

9) Yes, it is time for baseball’s unwritten rules to be re-written, but that is not why the sport is losing popularity.  No, that’s because it’s boring and takes too long:

Baseball has lagged behind basketball and football in popularity for a number of reasons, but primarily because the game is too buttoned down. In many ways, baseball has been the team version of golf.

10) Finally, the truth on what makes for good college teaching.

11) I love Terry Gross.  I already lament whenever she retires because there’s just no other interviewer close.  And I loved this NYT Magazine profile.

12) Best piece I’ve read on explaining the reasoning behind the recent and important (and somewhat complicated) Federal Appeals Court decision on gun control.

13) You know what’s good for poor people, but not bad for rich people?  More poor people living near rich people.

Critics would do well to study Mount Laurel itself, where an affordable housing development that opened in 2000 has yielded benefits that have been chronicled in a study led by the Princeton sociologist Douglas Massey. The study, recounted in the book “Climbing Mount Laurel,” shows that an attractive, well-maintained affordable housing development in an affluent neighborhood can improve the lives of struggling families without jeopardizing local property values, precipitating more crime or becoming an economic burden on the community.

14) And how white children may benefit from integrated schools.

15) I used to think birth order was bunk.  Then I read some research in grad school and thought it was real.  Latest research says it’s basically bunk.

16) Jesus would probably not be such a big Tea Party fan.

17) Enjoyed this post on the Star Wars movies in light of the new trailer:

Coming to the original “Star Wars” trilogy at the right age is a minor blessing: young enough to be confused by the fact that “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” looked like the future, or to be terrified by pretty much all of “The Empire Strikes Back,” or to think that tiny Teddy bears armed with sticks and rocks really might be able to defeat armored professional soldiers. But old enough to recognize the regret and redemption of Obi-Wan Kenobi, squirm at the flirty banter of Han and Leia, and understand just how magnificently terrible it would be to discover that Darth Vader is your father.

18) Those “social welfare” PAC’s that are supposedly about educating the public rather than electoral advocacy are about the biggest, most embarrassing sham in American politics.  Looks like the one supporting NC Senator Thom Tillis has been caught in its fraud.  I doubt anything will happen.  And the N&O on it.

19) The secret to a easy to remember but hard to crack password?  Poetry.

20) If you are betting, Hillary is way under-valued as a presidential candidate.  I really need to put actual money in this some day.  For now, I’ve just got lunch riding on it (in a bet dating back to 2013).




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