Links 7/24/14

Links for you. Science:

You’re not allowed bioinformatics anymore (must-read; accessible to non-specialists)
Hell yes: Komodo dragons!!!
Great Barrier Reef ‘in worst state since records began’: Scientists say reef will be ‘pretty ugly’ within 40 years, with large swathes of seaweed where complex coral structures once thrived
This one statistic about peer review will shock and surprise you


Tom Engelhardt: Requiem for the American Century – Paragraph by Paragraph (very good)
Quashing Jewish Dissent on Israel
When Lockheed Gives You Lemons
Why not worker control?
Exclusive: High-Level NSA Whistleblower Says Blackmail Is a Huge – Unreported – Part of Mass Surveillance
Busy Doctors, Wasteful Spending (how is a primary care physician supposed to manage your care if she sees you for ten minutes every year? This isn’t medical care at all)
Smile For The Aliens
Hong Kong at night
From Inside and Outside the Iron Dome, Once Again: “If you continue looking up to the sky, you will not notice that the house is already burning from within.” A reader in Jerusalem on the real threat to his country.
Mission Finance: why money matters
The Ultimate Banksy Gallery (127 photos)
Officials expect Silver Line parking demand to outstrip supply (a commuter rail without parking. Fucking brilliant. Ugh)
Tel Aviv Is Under Red Alert — In Many Ways. Why Are Peace Activists Getting Beat Up?

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Would You Like Norovirus With That Subway Sandwich?

Though it could just be the summertime version of winter vomiting disease!

A Subway employee in Freeport, Texas claims she was fired after she became so ill that sympathetic workers at a nearby restaurant called 911 to care for her.

Elizabeth Taft …told Local 2 Houston that when she reported to work sick with a stomach virus last week, her manager refused to allow her to leave.

I was going back and forth to the bathroom, puking my guts out,” Taft said. “I was sweating, I was drenched in sweat. I felt weak.” But her manager just ordered her to resume working on the line.

“So until about 1 o’clock, I was on the line making sandwiches and [her manager] knew I was sick,” she said. “I was touching everybody’s sandwiches. I’m like ‘this ain’t right.’ I had gloves on, but that doesn’t matter.”

She eventually became so feverish that she stumbled outside, where an employee from a nearby restaurant came to her aid.

He took pictures of her and posted them to Facebook with the caption, “if you planned on eating Freeport Subway today I advise not to, I witnessed an employee vomiting and her manager just telling her to switch shirts.”

This manager was essentially poisoning his customers. The manager should be fired. This is yet another reason why we need nationally-mandated sick days.

Posted in Fucking Morons, Public Health | 1 Comment

The Summer of Our Educational Discontents

Jeff Bryant, at the Educational Opportunity Network, correctly concludes that the chattering classes are missing the story on the backlash to education ‘reform’ (boldface mine):

Among those “issues,” are recent “50 year anniversary recognitions of past court decisions that were about righting the wrongs of inequity,” Weingarten elaborated, referring to the recent commemoration of the Brown v Board decision and other actions that enforced civil rights and racial integration of public schools. “But now federal policies have gone so far afield of that,” Weingarten stated. Instead, current policies emphasize “accountability” of teachers and schools to such an extent they ignore the issues of “adequate and equitable supports for our schools.”

That’s the story journalists who haven’t been following education don’t get. Behind nearly every protest to the status quo education policies are common grievances about resource deprivation, inequity, and widespread feeling that ordinary Americans no longer control their children’s and community’s education destinies.

Despite how the particulars of the debate pivot to issues about content standards, to assessment results, to school choice, to teacher tenure, grievances with inadequate and inequitable funding and lack of democratic control are what’s driving the debate – not teachers’ unions, Diane Ravitch, or the inner dynamics of the Democratic Party.

As elites (or elite wannabees) are wont to do, they completely ignore a broad groundswell of opposition, including parents (and other who care about education)–the ‘teachers versus reformers’ is inadequate. In upper middle class communities, you have parents who dislike the constant testing and rigid curriculum, who, at the same time, see their schools sending students to good colleges, and don’t want what has worked for them to change. In lower-middle class and poor communities, they realize that they don’t have the nice things other schools get–including textbooks. While all of these parents know of ‘bad’ and ‘good’ teachers (though it’s unclear if these assessments correlate with actual learning), teacher quality is way down the list of the concerns (especially when they know teachers are spending hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets in the classroom). The one exception is in lower income communities where Teach For America candidates are replacing experienced teachers: parents rightly wonder why inexperienced, undertrained teachers are working with the hardest-to-teach students.

This is why the backlash against education ‘reform’ isn’t going away. There are legitimate concerns and the reformers at best ignore them, when they’re not actively denigrating them.

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Links 7/23/14

Links for you. Science:

How to Ignore a Plague: Escaped Ebola patients, besieged hospitals, and deadly denial in West Africa
Pathogen Mishaps Rise as Regulators Stay Clear
Want a grant? First review someone else’s proposal
New Allele Hopeful of Making The Big Time (if you don’t know what an allele is, read this)


The Myth of the Magical Black Father
Democrats Embrace the Good Kind of ‘Entitlement Reform’
Mandalay’s Chinese Muslims Chilled by Riots
Grocery Store Economics: Why Are Rotisserie Chickens So Cheap?
A disturbing data set
Something I learned from fixing things
The intellectual cesspool of the inflation truthers
How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic
NSA sees your nude pix ‘as fringe benefits of surveillance positions,’ says Snowden
Mommy Police With Real Handcuffs (my take here)
Israel’s Deadly Gambits: The Israeli government has lost the ability to think strategically.
Flap over Haystack reflects broader angst about parking

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Two Tone on Caroline

Observed on Caroline Street, Adams Morgan, D.C.:

Two tone

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BL-3 and BL-4: Mistakes Will Always Be Made

The difference between smart students and not-so-smart students is that the not-so-smart students will screw up in predictable ways, while the smart ones will screw up in completely novel and unexpected ways (of course, we never screwed anything up…). With that in mind, this bit from a Government Accounting Office (‘GAO’) report about high-containment laboratories (those that work with BL-3 and BL-4 pathogens) is chilling (pdf; boldface mine):

For example, while investigating a power outage incident in its recently constructed BSL-4 laboratory, the CDC later determined that, some time earlier, a critical grounding cable buried in the ground outside the building had been cut by construction workers digging at an adjacent site. The cutting of the grounding cable, which had hitherto gone unnoticed by CDC facility managers, compromised the electrical system of the facility that housed the BSL-4 laboratory. Given that grounding cables were cut, it is apparent that the building’s integrity as it related to adjacent construction was not adequately supervised. CDC officials stated in 2009 that standard procedures under local building codes did not require monitoring of the integrity of the new BSL-4 facility’s electrical grounding. This incident highlighted the risks inherent in relying on local building codes to ensure the safety of high-containment laboratories, as there are no building codes and testing procedures specifically for those laboratories.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t do any BL-3 or BL-4 research, but we need to be much more rigorous about the costs and benefits of this research. Mistakes will be made. It’s worth keeping this in mind:

Posted in CDC, Public Health | 1 Comment

Links 7/22/14

Links for you. Science:

This Man Wants to Genetically Engineer Trees to Save the World
Insinuations, misdirections, straw arguments and obsfucation in drug abuse journalism
CDC’s lab problems have ripple effect on other outbreaks
Sharks Aren’t in the Great Lakes, but Testicle-Nipping Fish Are


Who Got Capped? What really went down in Massachusetts this week… (good read on the inside skinny on why the MA Senate rebuffed the education ‘reformers’–definitely won’t read this in the Boston Globe)
Megyn Kelly Misrepresented My Article About Contraception I’m an OB-GYN. She’s Not.
Did the Banks Have to Commit Fraud?
‘No Cellphones’ Lane On Sidewalk Was Stunt Fot NatGeo Show (actually, this is a great idea)
How America’s internet can become the fastest on Earth
Walk on the Water
Utah Man Arrested: Plotted Anti-Government Uprising, Planted Bombs To Blow Up Bridges, Kill Police
Was Iraq’s Top Terrorist Radicalized at a US-Run Prison? A former US military compound commander at Camp Bucca suspects ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s extremism was fostered (or bolstered) at the facility.
Netroots Nation is going to Arizona, Daily Kos is not (good for Kos)
The techno-libertarians of Silicon Valley should think twice about aligning with climate deniers

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