DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Archive for the 'Think about it.' Category

Feminism as Male-Role-Envy

30th October 2014

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A feminist in the strict and proper sense may be defined as a woman who envies the male role.

The Other McCain doubles down:

Making equality into a moral principle and a political objective always has the result of  of inflaming irrational resentment. People ask why feminists are always so angry; it is because the egalitarian mind sees injustice everywhere. If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. If the only ideology you have is feminism, every problem looks like patriarchal oppression. Any attempt to placate feminists is as doomed as Neville Chamberlain’s attempts to appease Hitler. Feminists are totalitarians who crave unlimited power and can never be satisfied with partial success or compromise. Grant feminists every demand they make today, and tomorrow they will return with a new list of demands. One day it’s “peace for our time,” the next day the Stukas are dive-bombing Warsaw.

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From Isaac Newton to the Genius Bar

29th October 2014

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We live at a time when commentators speak without irony of “ordinary genius” and claim to find it everywhere. From the “genius bar” at the local Apple Store to bestselling books that trumpet “the genius in all of us,” geniuses seem to abound. But if we consider the idea of “genius” as it has evolved across history, it starts to look like we don’t really need geniuses as we once did. It may be that we don’t need them at all. The increasing banality of genius in the contemporary world has begun to dissolve it as a useful category.

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Does Evolutionary Theory Need a Rethink?

29th October 2014

Pro and con.

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Delusion Events Fool Us

29th October 2014

Bob Mayer explains.

We often look at narrow escapes or near misses as ‘fortunate’ events where disaster was averted; indeed, we get to the point where we normalize near misses. Instead, we need to look at these ‘fortunate’ events as cascade events where we came close to catastrophe and were simply fortunate that we didn’t hit the final event. Relying on luck is a very dangerous mindset yet we immerse ourselves in it on a daily basis. We often call it ‘dodging the bullet’ forgetting that when a bullet hits, the results are catastrophic to the target.

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Payment Wars: How Merchants and Carriers Are Trying to Block Payment Systems They Can’t Track

28th October 2014

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Over the weekend, it came out that two giant pharmacy chains, Rite Aid and CVS, had started blocking Apple Pay, the massively hyped new payment system from Apple that has received much praise for its ease of use. The product had worked for about a week before the two companies started blocking such near field communication (NFC) payments (which also takes out other NFC payment options like Google Wallet). While Rite Aid gave a vague and slightly ridiculous explanation — that it is “still in the process of evaluating our mobile payment options” — pretty much everyone knows the truth. A bunch of retailers, led by Walmart, have been creating their own mobile payment system called CurrentC, which cuts out the credit card companies. But, it also builds in all the tracking and spying features of store loyalty cards, expanded across all merchant partners. Apple Pay lets people remain anonymous.

Thar’s gold in them there data.

I’d hate to stop shopping at Walmart, but if they don’t take Apple Pay, it could happen.

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Minimum Wage and Employment

27th October 2014

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A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, “More Recent Evidence on the Effects of Minimum Wages in the United States,” concludes, “We see the evidence as still pointing to disemployment effects for low-skilled workers from raising the minimum wage.” Further, “we conclude that the best evidence still points to job loss from minimum wages for low-skilled workers — in particular for teens.”

Perhaps somebody ought to send a copy of this paper to Hillary Clinton. She seems to be a common-sense-denier.

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BBC Class Calculator

26th October 2014

Check it out.

Not surprisingly, I belong to the Technical Middle Class.

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America’s Newest Hipster Hot Spot: the Suburbs?

26th October 2014

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It’s an idea echoed everywhere from “Friends” to “Girls”Young people want to live in cities. And, we’re told, a lot of them (at least the cool ones) do.

It’s a common assumption. But it’s also wrong.

Between 2010 and 2013, the number of 20- to 29-year-olds in America grew by 4 percent. But the number living in the nation’s core cities grew 3.2 percent. In other words, the share of 20-somethings living in urban areas actually declined slightly.

This trend has occurred in supposedly hot cities like San Fransisco, Boston, New York and D.C., notes demographer Wendell Cox. Chicago and Portland, Ore., both widely hailed as youth boom-towns, saw their numbers of 20-somethings decline, too.

Funny how facts keep putting sand in the gears of the Narrative.

Only 17 percent of Millennials identify the urban core as where they want to settle permanently. Another survey, by the Demand Institute (funded by the Conference Board and Neilsen), found that 48 percent of 20-somethings hoped to move to the suburbs one day. And contrary to popular myth, they hoped to own a single-family home. Sixty-one percent seek more space.

These findings may actually understate the suburban preference. As people age, particularly entering the child-bearing period between 30 and 50, they long have displayed a distinct tendency to move to suburban areas.

Well, there goes the neighborhood….

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Amazon Is Not a Monopoly

26th October 2014

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Franklin Foer has an interesting new essay at New Republic arguing that Amazon is a monopoly trampling the public good and necessitating a vigorous public response, à la Ma Bell or U.S. Steel before it. There’s just one problem with his argument: Amazon is not a monopoly.

And if a Voice of the Crust like New York magazine says it, are we not obliged to believe it?

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A New Caste Society

26th October 2014

Steve Sailer looks behind the curtain.

As I’ve joked before, when I became interested in the quantitative literature on educational achievement in ninth grade in 1972, the racial rankings went:

1. Orientals
2. Caucasians
3. Chicanos
4. Blacks
Today, the order is:

1. Asians
2. Whites
3. Hispanics
4. African-Americans

What I hadn’t guessed in 1988 was that the powers that be in Chicago would simply unload their unwanted public housing project residents on the rest of the Midwest via Section 8 vouchers, with the federal government ready to persecute for discrimination any two-bit burgh that tried to resist. That seemed a little too cynical for even me to imagine in 1988.

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‘New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.’

26th October 2014

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Dappled across the grasslands below was an archipelago of forest islands, many of them startlingly round and hundreds of acres across. Each island rose ten or thirty or sixty feet above the floodplain, allowing trees to grow that would otherwise never survive the water. The forests were linked by raised berms, as straight as a rifle shot and up to three miles long. It is Erickson’s belief that this entire landscape—30,000 square miles of forest mounds surrounded by raised fields and linked by causeways—was constructed by a complex, populous society more than 2,000 years ago. Balée, newer to the Beni, leaned toward this view but was not yet ready to commit himself.

Like people everywhere, Indians survived by cleverly exploiting their environment. Europeans tended to manage land by breaking it into fragments for farmers and herders. Indians often worked on such a grand scale that the scope of their ambition can be hard to grasp. They created small plots, as Europeans did (about 1.5 million acres of terraces still exist in the Peruvian Andes), but they also reshaped entire landscapes to suit their purposes. A principal tool was fire, used to keep down underbrush and create the open, grassy conditions favorable for game. Rather than domesticating animals for meat, Indians retooled whole ecosystems to grow bumper crops of elk, deer, and bison. The first white settlers in Ohio found forests as open as English parks—they could drive carriages through the woods. Along the Hudson River the annual fall burning lit up the banks for miles on end; so flashy was the show that the Dutch in New Amsterdam boated upriver to goggle at the blaze like children at fireworks. In North America, Indian torches had their biggest impact on the Midwestern prairie, much or most of which was created and maintained by fire. Millennia of exuberant burning shaped the plains into vast buffalo farms. When Indian societies disintegrated, forest invaded savannah in Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Texas Hill Country. Is it possible that the Indians changed the Americas more than the invading Europeans did? “The answer is probably yes for most regions for the next 250 years or so” after Columbus, William Denevan wrote, “and for some regions right up to the present time.”

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The Dangers of Eating Late at Night

26th October 2014

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I specialize in the diagnosis and management of acid reflux, especially airway reflux, which affects the throat, sinuses and lungs. Airway reflux is often “silent,” occurring without telltale digestive symptoms, like heartburn and indigestion. Most of the tens of thousands of reflux patients that I have seen over the last 35 years are well today because I treat reflux by modifying my patients’ diets and lifestyles.

Over the past two decades, I’ve noticed that the time of the evening meal has been trending later and later among my patients. The after-work meal — already later because of longer work hours — is often further delayed by activities such as shopping and exercise.

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The Problem With Positive Thinking

26th October 2014

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MANY people think that the key to success is to cultivate and doggedly maintain an optimistic outlook. This belief in the power of positive thinking, expressed with varying degrees of sophistication, informs everything from affirmative pop anthems like Katy Perry’s “Roar” to the Mayo Clinic’s suggestion that you may be able to improve your health by eliminating “negative self-talk.”

But the truth is that positive thinking often hinders us. More than two decades ago, I conducted a study in which I presented women enrolled in a weight-reduction program with several short, open-ended scenarios about future events — and asked them to imagine how they would fare in each one. Some of these scenarios asked the women to imagine that they had successfully completed the program; others asked them to imagine situations in which they were tempted to cheat on their diets. I then asked the women to rate how positive or negative their resulting thoughts and images were.

A year later, I checked in on these women. The results were striking: The more positively women had imagined themselves in these scenarios, the fewer pounds they had lost.

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Comedy as Cultural Heritage

26th October 2014

Certain classic comedy routines might be considered as part of our common cultural heritage. One obvious candidate is Abbott & Costello in Who’s On First. Another would be the Three Stooges in Niagara Falls. I would also include Bill Cosby’s Noah, and Gallagher’s Sledge-o-matic. The Marx Brothers offer an embarrassment of riches, with The Password, Tootsie Frootsi Ice Cream, the Sanity Claus, and The Mirror coming immediately to mind — but of course if we could have only one, it would be Two Hard-Boiled Eggs.

There my memory falters. Who am I missing?

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Free Tattoo Removal Program Offers Oakland’s Young Residents a Fresh Start

25th October 2014

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The problem is that tattoos are indicia of stupidity; this is essentially fraudulent, like hymen reconstruction surgery.

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Thought for the Day

25th October 2014

Halloween Redistribution copy

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A Lefty Explains What the Election Is All About

25th October 2014

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Hint: Power and money.

Glenn Reynolds once commented on the seeming paradox of liberals who are terrified at the prospect that libertarians might take power and leave them alone. Actually, liberals probably do want to be left alone; they just don’t have any intention of leaving you alone. Liberals hunger for power so that they can enrich themselves, in many cases, but more generally, so they can remake the world according to their own preferences. This doesn’t mean that they will have to change, but it does mean that you will have to change. As long as liberals’ hunger for power is stronger than conservatives’ desire to be left in peace, the Left will continue to dominate our public life.

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10 ‘Insane Things’ Wall Street Really Believes

25th October 2014

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I rather suspect that Wall Street could come up with 100 insane things that NBC News believes, with not much effort.

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Blue State Blues: I’m Tired of Watching Other Countries Spike the Football

24th October 2014

Joel Pollak is disappointed.

You had to feel just the slightest tinge of jealousy watching the members of the Canadian parliament give a lengthy standing ovation to Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, the 58-year-old who killed a terrorist and defended democracy on Wednesday. Imagine if we in the United States still had the self-confidence to celebrate our heroes. Imagine if we could, even for just a moment, cheer for them–and each other. For who and what we are.

When President Barack Obama announced in May 2011 that Osama bin Laden had been killed, there were no such celebrations–at least among the country’s leaders.

Sure, students gathered spontaneously in front of the White House, waving American flags and shouting “U-S-A!” Yes, the midshipmen ” target=”_blank”>whooped through the night.

But our politicians–even while taking political credit–would not celebrate America, lest someone take offense.

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The Civilization Kit

23rd October 2014

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Marcin Jakubowski, the owner of a small farm in northwestern Missouri, is an agrarian romantic for high-tech times. A forty-one-year-old Polish-American, he has spent the past five years building industrial machines from scratch, in a demonstration of radical self-sufficiency that he intends as a model for human society everywhere. He believes that freedom and prosperity lie within the reach of anyone willing to return to the land and make the tools necessary to erect civilization on top of it. His project, the Global Village Construction Set, has attracted a following, but among the obstacles he has faced is a dearth of skilled acolytes: the people who show up at his farm typically display more enthusiasm for his ideas than expertise with a lathe or a band saw.

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Is African-American Studies a Front for Athletic Departments?

23rd October 2014

Steve Sailer asks an inconvenient question.

At Rice U., there used to be a jock-only major called Commerce. But, in a bout of post-Sixties idealism, the professors revolted and made Rice get rid of the phony, non-academic Commerce major. During my four years at Rice in the late 1970s, the football team won 7 games and lost 37. Cause and effect?

But what if instead of Commerce, jocks were channelled into, say, African-American Studies? What kind of vicious racist hater would complain about the academic worthiness of African-American Studies?

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Overlooked Engines of Re-urbanization

23rd October 2014

Steve Sailer looks at urban living.

One reason people moved in large numbers to the suburbs after WWII was because they were quieter for sleeping, especially in summer when you needed to keep your windows open. Lower density means less noise means more hours of sleep per night means happier, more productive days.

Before suburbanization, really rich families simply went some place cool for the entire summer. Affluent families sent the wife and kids away for the summer while the husband stayed home, as in The Seven Year Itch.

For example, in the 1920s, my father lived in Oak Park, Illinois, just west of Chicago. Oak Park is about as famously suburban as any place in America — the house next door was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and native son Ernest Hemingway derided Oak Park for its broad lawns and narrow minds.

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Koch Industries Funds Legal Defense For the Poor

22nd October 2014

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The dastards.

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Officials Want South Florida to Break Off Into Its Own State

22nd October 2014

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And why not?

“It’s very apparent that the attitude of the northern part of the state is that they would just love to saw the state in half and just let us float off into the Caribbean,” Stoddard said. “They’ve made that abundantly clear every possible opportunity and I would love to give them the opportunity to do that.”

Sounds like a  plan.

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Distributism and Moore’s Law

22nd October 2014

Jerry Pournelle has some thoughts.

We are ramping up on commands to the healthcare workers, coupled with a bit of information and possibly the distribution of some equipment for dealing with Ebola. Recall that all that equipment is subject to a 20% Federal Excise tax. All medical equipment from crutches to scalpels, hemostats and wheel chairs, splints and stethoscopes, all of it is subject to a 20% excise tax, presumably to help finance affordable health care although how making medical equipment more expensive is supposed to do that is not clear to me. This raises the cost of protective gear a considerable amount.

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School Doesn’t Have to Suck When You Teach Your Own Kids

21st October 2014

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Fortunately, my son is now homeschooled—or, technically, attends a private online school. He uses online lessons and offline texts and workbooks to learn, coached by his mother and me. The lessons are means to an end; he takes them as needed, and can take as much or little time as necessary, until he demonstrates his mastery of a topic in a unit assessment test. Then he moves on. Find your vocabulary set a breeze? Then skip the review lessons. Stumped by long division? Then spend a few hours working it out.

Funny how that works.

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Thought for the Day

21st October 2014

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Why You Should Always Encrypt Your Smartphone

21st October 2014

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Last week, California’s Supreme Court reached a controversial 5-2 decision in People v. Diaz (PDF), holding that police officers may lawfully search mobile phones found on arrested individuals’ persons without first obtaining a search warrant. The court reasoned that mobile phones, like cigarette packs and wallets, fall under the search incident to arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

California’s opinion in Diaz is the latest of several recent court rulings upholding warrantless searches of mobile phones incident to arrest. While this precedent is troubling for civil liberties, it’s not a death knell for mobile phone privacy. If you follow a few basic guidelines, you can protect your mobile device from unreasonable search and seizure, even in the event of arrest. In this article, we will discuss the rationale for allowing police to conduct warrantless searches of arrestees, your right to remain silent during police interrogation, and the state of mobile phone security.

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Michael Mosley: Should People Be Eating More Fat?

21st October 2014

Read it.

Everything bad is good for you.

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How Knights Fought in Their Heavy Plate Armor

19th October 2014

Read it. And watch the video.

Recently, a couple of re-enactors wit the Le Musée National du Moyen-Âge de Cluny shot a video to demonstrate just how an maneuverable armor-clad fighter could be. It’s an eye-opener, especially if you always assumed that an unhorsed and armored knight would be able to do little beyond shuffle and squeak toward his enemy. Take a look!

This, of course, comes as no surprise to anyone in the SCA. I remember an incident from the early 80s at Purdue University where Duke Moonwulf Starkadderson and his squires, responding to a challenge from the local Army ROTC unit, ran their Confidence Course in full armor (except helmets) in about the average time the cadets could do.

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‘Sorry, guys, we’re not all going to die of Ebola.’

19th October 2014

Sarah Hoyt breaks the news.

Which is a problem, because while we’re not all going to die of Ebola, Ebola has revealed how far gone we are in lack of civic trust.

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Watch ‘The Hobbit,’ as Told in 72 Seconds of Lego Stop-Motion Animation

18th October 2014

Read it.

If, of course, that’s what you want to do.

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Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers

17th October 2014

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Well, to start with, they don’t pretend that everybody and his dog needs to go to college.

The U.S. has its own tradition of apprenticeship going back many years. But like most kinds of vocational education, it fell out of fashion in recent decades—a victim of our obsession with college and concern to avoid anything that resembles tracking. Today in America, fewer than 5 percent of young people train as apprentices, the overwhelming majority in the construction trades. In Germany, the number is closer to 60 percent—in fields as diverse as advanced manufacturing, IT, banking, and hospitality. And in Europe, what’s often called “dual training” is a highly respected career path.

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Gimmedat

17th October 2014

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When then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saw fit to ram the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (now affectionately known as ObamaCare) through Congress, the country engaged in a substantive debate over the duty and role of government.

Did I say substantive debate? What I really meant was childish rancor and outrageous demands.

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Ex-Presidents and Class

17th October 2014

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Just about the entire Democratic Party is lining up to dump on Obama at the moment, including former President Jimmy Carter, who is obviously relieved that he’s no longer everyone’s go-to model for the worst president in modern memory.

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ISIS Puzzle

16th October 2014

Scott Adams connects the dots, which as a cartoonist he’s allowed to do.

I’ve described in this blog how my B.S. filter works. I look for two sources to be in agreement. For example, if the news reports match my common sense view, or my observations, or the first-hand accounts from witnesses, I tend to believe the news. But if the news conflicts with my common sense or my observations I raise an eyebrow and try to keep it that way.

The ISIS story doesn’t pass my B.S. filter because it violates common sense that such a competent fighting force could suddenly emerge and bitch-slap professionally trained (or even poorly trained) military forces with such consistency. I have worked in large organizations and I know that the logistics involved – the planning, training, and resupplying are huge challenges even for organized armies. Did ISIS really figure out all of that while their communications are presumably monitored by the enemy?

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The Long and Ugly Tradition of Treating Africa as a Dirty, Diseased Place

16th October 2014

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I’d be more concerned if Africans didn’t seem so determined to convince us that it is.

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Here’s What We Should Learn From Nigeria’s Incredible Effort to Shut Down Ebola

16th October 2014

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Nigeria is much closer to the West Africa outbreak than the US is, yet even after Ebola entered the country in the most terrifying way possible — via a visibly sick passenger on a commercial flight — officials successfully shut down the disease and prevented widespread transmission.

Usually Business Insider is Just Another Oxymoronically Named Lefty Rag, but they may actually be growing up into real journalists.

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Michael Mosley: Should People Be Eating More Fat?

15th October 2014

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It really is the sort of news that made me want to weep into my skinny cappuccino and then pour it down the sink. After years of being told, and telling others, that saturated fat clogs your arteries and makes you fat, there is now mounting evidence that eating some saturated fats may actually help you lose weight and be good for the heart.

Everything bad is good for you. Michelle, put a sock in it.

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Rock-Star Capitalism

14th October 2014

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What does it tell you when the leader of the world’s best known rock band has a better grasp of modern tax policy than those responsible for making it?

The front man for the rock band U2 got some people’s Irish up after he defended the low taxes of his homeland. “Tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known,” said the singer about the Emerald Isle. He’s absolutely right.

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Why the Kitchen Computing Dream of the 80s Never Caught On

14th October 2014

Read it.

But Computer Programs for the Kitchen seems to be written for an audience that has zero knowledge of either cooking or computers; a curious alien, perhaps. In addition to building a recipe storage program, Chapter 5 outlines the structural features of a menu, in case the reader has never eaten a meal, and offers “proven menus” sure to impress your boss or other important dinner guests (Oysters Rockefeller, anyone?). There are dinner party preparation flowcharts (p 142), figures detailing the many kinds of pots found in a kitchen (p 149), and a table that lists the “mother” sauces that can be modified to make a range of different sauces.

The final chapter is a guide to becoming an insufferable 80s wine snob—it is titled “Is Wine Important?” and offers advice like, “The following list of French wines should be programmed into your computer…”

Only someone who does not need to make dinner right now with a toddler attached to their leg has the luxury of turning it into a weekend-tinkering pursuit.

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Why Flunking Exams Is Actually a Good Thing

10th October 2014

Read it.

First, of course, you have to pick the right exam.

Across a variety of experiments, psychologists have found that, in some circumstances, wrong answers on a pretest aren’t merely useless guesses. Rather, the attempts themselves change how we think about and store the information contained in the questions. On some kinds of tests, particularly multiple-choice, we benefit from answering incorrectly by, in effect, priming our brain for what’s coming later.

That is: The (bombed) pretest drives home the information in a way that studying as usual does not. We fail, but we fail forward.

Often our study “aids” simply create fluency illusions — including, yes, highlighting — as do chapter outlines provided by a teacher or a textbook. Such fluency misperceptions are automatic; they form subconsciously and render us extremely poor judges of what we need to restudy or practice again. “We know that if you study something twice, in spaced sessions, it’s harder to process the material the second time, and so people think it’s counterproductive,” Nate Kornell, a psychologist at Williams College, said. “But the opposite is true: You learn more, even though it feels harder. Fluency is playing a trick on judgment.”

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NASA: Biggest Cap of Antarctic Sea Ice Since 1979

9th October 2014

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How about that Global Warming, huh?

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Why Academics Stink at Writing

9th October 2014

Steven Pinker turns over a rock.

Together with wearing earth tones, driving Priuses, and having a foreign policy, the most conspicuous trait of the American professoriate may be the prose style called academese.

No honest professor can deny that there’s something to the stereotype. When the late Denis Dutton (founder of the Chronicle-owned Arts & Letters Daily) ran an annual Bad Writing Contest to celebrate “the most stylistically lamentable passages found in scholarly books and articles,” he had no shortage of nominations, and he awarded the prizes to some of academe’s leading lights.

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Lead Poisoning in Rome – The Skeletal Evidence

8th October 2014

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Did lead poisoning cause the fall of the Roman Empire?  Probably not.

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Google Turned A Camel Into A Street View Car To Map The Liwa Desert

8th October 2014

Read it.

I am not making this up.

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Council of Chalcedon

8th October 2014

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Memorandum that Orthodox Christians have been resisting Muslim aggression for 1400 years.

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The Bacon Boom Was Not an Accident

6th October 2014

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In the past decade, bacon has grown into an industry generating more than $4 billion in annual sales. It has moved from a breakfast meat to a food trend touching an incredible array of consumer goods, both edible and not, from bacon-heavy fast-food burgers and bacon-infused desserts at fine dining restaurants to bottles of bacon-distilled vodka and even a sexual lubricant formulated to smell (and taste) like bacon. More than cupcakes, ramen, or kale, bacon has become the defining food trend of a society obsessed with food trends.

Oh, more than just a trend, I think.

Bacon has been a staple of the American diet since the first European settlers, but until recently it was consumed in a predictable, seasonal pattern. The bulk of sales came from home consumers, diners, and pancake houses, which fried it up along with eggs for breakfast. “For a long time bacon was sold 80 percent at retail and only 20 percent in food service,” says Leathers, who worked selling and marketing pork to both supermarkets and restaurants over the decades. In summer, sales would spike along with the annual tomato crop—peak season for Cobb salads, BLTs, and club sandwiches. When the tomatoes ran out by October, bacon retreated to the breakfast table till the next summer. The pork belly futures contract was born at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1961 as a result of this cycle: Farmers with an excess supply of pork bellies sold them to cold storage warehouses, thus locking in a price long before tomato season hit. Pork belly traders made money speculating on the spread between the price of bellies on those contracts and the price they got when they finally sold the frozen meat to a smokehouse, where it was made into bacon.

There is no time when bacon is inappropriate.

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Freedom From Food

6th October 2014

More on Soylent from one of the chattering classes.

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Machine Learning Is Teaching Us the Secret to Teaching

5th October 2014

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When Pyotr Stolyarsky died in 1944, he was considered Russia’ s greatest violin teacher. He counted among his pupils a coterie of stars, including David Oistrakh and Nathan Milstein, and a school for gifted musicians in his native Odessa was named after him in 1933. But Stolyarsky couldn’t play the violin anywhere near as well as his best students. What he could do was whisper metaphors into their ears. He might lean over and explain how his mother cooked Sabbath dinner. His advice gave no specific information on what angle the bow should describe, or how to move the fingers across the frets to create vibrato. Instead, it distilled his experience of the music into metaphors his students could understand.

 

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