Links 4/18/15

Links for you. Science:

Clinton Makes Climate Change A Central Issue for 2016
The reality that dare not speak its name
Ah Tawt I Taw a Terror Bird
The Shortest-Known Paper Published in a Serious Math Journal: Two Succinct Sentences
The Hated, Invasive Parasite That’s Actually a Key Part of Its Ecosystem


Here We Go
The world of threats to the US is an illusion
Will The Charter School BS Ever Stop?
Cherry Blossoms Hit Peak Bloom, People Snap Gorgeous Pictures
Israel’s dark future: Democracy in the Jewish state is doomed
The first rule of law school employment statistics
“Getting Started”: Questions for Hillary Clinton as She Begins Her Campaign in Iowa
There’s Nothing Inevitable About Hillary
Chinese conman undone as 17 girlfriends turn up at his hospital bedside
Md. ‘free-range children’ taken into custody again by CPS after being found unsupervised at a park
The most depressing presidential campaign of your lifetime began today
Where the White People Live: How self-segregation and concentrated affluence became normal in America
The NRA’s open-carry clustermuck: How its annual convention highlights the hypocrisy of the pro-gun movement
The Mighty Sword Of Marco Rubio
BATs Congratulate Hillary Clinton

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The Other Reason Jews Aren’t Defecting to the GOP

Josh Zeitz has a good article about the perpetual Republican dream that Jews will abandon the Democratic Party for the GOP. It’s pretty good (the “next year in New Hampshire” phrase is funny), but Zeitz misses a rather obvious reason–the Republicans, as I’ve noted, have a Jewish problem:

Whitbeck isn’t some idiot blogging in his basement. He is a Republican party official. And instead of being booed or made to feel uncomfortable [after making an anti-Semitic joke], he was cheered.

This is the Republican base. They need these bigots to win elections. Never forget that. Because this kind of behavior is a part of a pattern:

I See Stupid People: The JD Hayworth Edition

GOP Rep. Eric Cantor and Why Most Jews Don’t Vote Republican: Their Highly Successful Jewish Outreach Program
More from the Successful Republican Jewish Outreach Program
Republican Outreach to Jews Is Working Almost as Well as the Outreach to African Americans
My Hook Nose Is Swelling With Pride

In 2013 no less.

Keep in mind:

It’s not that most Republicans are anti-Semites, but between the theocrats and the flat-out bigots, even if you thought Republicans were correct on this issue, it would be very hard to be allies with those assholes. This is an existential issue.

Between the bigots and those who pander to them, it’s amazing that even roughly one-fifth of Jews vote Republican.

This is a consequence of the GOP turning itself into a white Christian nationalist party.

Posted in Conservatives, Jewish Stuff | 1 Comment

Links 4/17/15

Links for you. Science:

Seven Takeaways From “What’s Hot in Boston Biotech”
Selectionism Strikes Back!
California Senate panel passes a bill to end vaccination opt-outs for kids entering public school
Why would a Californian drought trigger an outbreak of mosquito-borne disease?
Research Shows that Simple Treatments Can Help Save the Lives of Babies Who Lack Access to Hospital Care


How Driving While Poor Became A Crime In California
Rahm Emanuel Won—But Chicago Progressives Actually Have Much to Be Happy About
Senate Proposal Cuts Duncan Off At Knees
Rand Paul concedes he will cut Medicare and Social Security to pay for tax cuts
Empty Ebola Clinics in Liberia Are Seen as Misstep in U.S. Relief Effort
‘It’s Racist As Hell': Inside St. Louis County’s Predatory Night Courts
For downtown L.A.’s pedestrians, citations send a ‘don’t walk’ signal
Call it Big Data’s Big Dig — $75m, 19 years, still not done
War On Teacher Pensions = War On Women
Work makes Fritos
How the Obamas opted their children out of high-stakes standardized tests
RJ Eskow: The 5 Worst Things About the Techno-Libertarians Solidifying Their Grasp on Our Economy and Culture
National Bar Association wants second officer in Walter Scott shooting video fired, arrested (we have to start targeting those officers who assist in coverups)
Destruction of Egypt’s historic buildings a financial and cultural disaster
Anti-Gay Bigotry Is Backfiring: Poll Finds Gay People More Popular Than Evangelicals

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Yes, Kids Outgrow Naps: The Mad Biologist Edition

This article about daytime naps and if small kids should be made to take them reminds me of something I once did. When I was a very, very wee Mad Biologist, the doctor told me parents to make me take daytime naps. My mother protested, telling the doctor that I really didn’t seem to need them. He persuaded her nonetheless, and the first time she did this, about ten minutes later, she heard a loud series of crashing noises from my room.

Running to my room, she discovered that I had toppled anything in my room that could be toppled. The doctor apparently concluded that I did have plenty of energy, and the naps were removed from my schedule.

I come by this blogging thing honestly, I think.

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The Scientific Cost of Reflexive Ass-Covering

Or to use the term of art, proactive crisis management (rinses vomit out of mouth; boldface mine):

If they [NIH researchers] want to leave, though, to meet with scientists around the world at scientific and medical conferences, they spend their time doing paperwork instead.

“I’m allowed to approve my own experiments. I’m allowed to approve my own research protocol on humans. I am not allowed to approve my travel. This is what’s frustrating,” said Nehal Mehta. Mehta joined the NIH in 2012 from the University of Pennsylvania, in a new position created for promising researchers in the early stage of their careers.

Mehta and other NIH researchers say they keep getting entangled in the U.S. government’s travel bureaucracy. Designed to prevent waste, the rules cost millions of dollars to implement, stretch the approval process for travel to as long as half a year, and impede researchers from attending conferences that are a mainstay of scientific collaboration, the NIH says.

Strict travel rules were put in place for government workers after a scandal in which another agency, the GSA, was caught spending $823,000 on a Las Vegas conference in 2010. There were $34 breakfasts and shrimp appetizers priced at $4 a crustacean. People got fired.

“I understand why this oversight was put in place, because it’s a reaction to a couple boondoggles — which we had nothing to do with — but of course it spills out to everybody in government,” NIH Director Francis Collins said in an interview. “Science is really getting hurt.”

In total, the NIH says 156 workers keep tabs on 28,000 researchers going to more than 7,000 conferences annually.

That oversight is expensive — the NIH spent $14.6 million in 2014 to meet travel requirements and make sure employees didn’t overspend. That’s equal to a quarter of the agency’s $56.8 million conference travel budget, and almost as much as it plans to spend this year researching Down syndrome.

The NIH says it hasn’t had problems and doesn’t deserve the restrictions….

Collaboration with the rest of the scientific world is critical, since much of the agency’s $30 billion budget goes to outside researchers in the form of grants. In other cases, the NIH works directly with drug companies on new cures, like an experimental Ebola vaccine that’s a partnership between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

One NIH researcher claimed he lost out on opportunities to present his work at public meetings because the organizers thought he might cancel. While it’s not clear from the article how many trips are approved, let’s say four researchers attend each meeting, yielding 28,000 trips per year. At a budget of $14 million and change, that’s an additional cost of $500 per trip. Keep in mind that the scientist as well as the ‘local’ admin person still have to spend time doing paperwork which is not accounted for in the $14.6 million–and this paperwork is more onerous than it otherwise would be.

The insane thing is the amount of money saved is dwarfed by the cost of administering oversight. This is a predictable outcome when a significant fraction of the governing class–and not just conservatives–despise and do not trust government workers. If you don’t believe people will generally be good stewards of the public trust, the obvious solution is a massive fiscal surveillance apparatus that is expensive both in terms of money and time. Which ends up costing more.

But if you’re completely risk-averse (cough…Obama…cough), then this is what you end up paying for.

Posted in Fucking Morons, Funding, NIH, Ninnies | 1 Comment

Links 4/16/15

Links for you. Science:

Land Bridge Linking Americas Rose Earlier Than Thought (this is really important)
Urban Ants Love Junk Food, Too
Genomics of microbial plasmids: classification and identification based on replication and transfer systems and host taxonomy
Wanted: staff-scientist positions for postdocs. Nature readers favour creating more secure jobs to fix science’s broken postdoctoral system.
Astronomers Clash Over A Giant Telescope On A Sacred Hawaiian Mountain


Left flank critique of Hillary Clinton: On Wall Street ties
There Are No Abortion Cakes
New “Causal” Evidence in Support of VAMs
Former Republican Says No One Who Voted for the Iraq War Should Be President—Including Hillary Clinton (problem is Chafee is mediocre at best on economic issues; not a real option)
Darren Sharper May Have Penis Monitored As Part Of Probation, Report Says (sounds like phrenology of the penis to me)
Rand Paul Loves Big Government
The Tsarnaev Verdict: What We Still Don’t Know About Terrorism
What You Can Do Right Now About Police Brutality
Boston not alone in public opposition to Olympics: Evident in European cities as well
When Cops Cry Wolf: Police have been setting up suspects with false testimony for decades. Is anyone going to believe them now when they tell the truth?
The End of the Humanities Seminar
The Invisibility of Class, and the Hegemony of Conservative Ideas, in Contemporary America
Is Standardized Testing a Civil Right?
Americans’ views on abortion complex, but focused on understanding for women
For all the hype over quantified self, sometimes the old answers are still the best
What Will Be the Legacy of Today’s School ‘Reforms’?
No, the US government is not about to kill Pandora

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

The Conservative Con Rolls On

Vagina: It's not a clown car

You might have heard of the Duggar family, pictured above, who are part of the Quiverfull fundamentalist movement (boldface mine):

You’ll find Quiverfull families in nearly all types of churches in every community. Quiverfull is simply the “pro-life” idea that truly godly families will “trust the Lord” with their family planning. Children are viewed as unmitigated blessings (“As arrows in the hand of the mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them:” Psalm 123), so couples are willing to have as many children as the Lord chooses. All methods of conception control are considered a lack of trust in God to provide for the “children of the righteous.”

At the heart of Quiverfull is patriarchy: the ideal of biblical headship and submission. This is the belief that by God’s perfect design, the father is the head of the home. The father serves as protector, provider and shepherd for his wife and children. He is primarily responsible for the wife’s and children’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and with such responsibility comes the (divinely granted) commensurate authority over the members of his household. According to this view, God works through the father and he serves as an intermediary for his wife and children. Honor, obedience and submission are highly valued qualities because they are necessary to maintain order and work together to accomplish the Lord’s vision for a godly family.

This emphasis on patriarchy guarantees that, to the degree in which a Christian family puts Quiverfull ideals into practice, the family is living a dysfunctional relationship dynamic which necessarily involves mental, emotional and spiritual abuse.

The link lays out several reasons why women might go along with this idiocy, but this one stood out (boldface mine):

But there’s another factor at work that most Christian women haven’t thought much about, though it has a tremendous influence on the way they choose to live out their Christian faith.

I know you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you it’s money.

The Quiverfull worldview and lifestyle which I felt that I had carefully considered and thoughtfully adopted is, in actuality, a product called “Biblical Family Values” which is being aggressively marketed as an investment to safeguard our loved ones from becoming collateral damage in today’s “War Against the Family.”

That’s right. “Traditional Family Values” is a product and we bought it big-time.

The picture above is from a Christian homeschooling convention and curriculum fair in Texas which I found on the website of a Quiverfull family that sells creation-science materials for Christian homeschoolers. The caption beneath the photo of the vendor hall reads: “Needless to say, we spent a good amount of money at that hall. But this is the price of tuition for a homeschool family. It is an investment in our sons’ education and character.”

Among Christian books, the “Christian living” subcategory, which includes relationships and parenting, is one of the most popular and profitable. A 2008 Packaged Facts report, titled “The Religious Product Market in the U.S.,” cites ‘the culture wars’ as one reason for this overall growth. Paranoia fueled by biblical predictions of the end times is another. Contemporary evangelicals are convinced that we are living in the last days and are terrified for the spiritual safety of their children.

When we recognize just how lucrative the Biblical Family Values movement is, it is easy to predict a phenomenal increase in Christian fundamentalism. I would often remark that “this family vision is spreading like wildfire,” all the while oblivious to the fact that there’s big money to be made in selling family stability and security. These desperate moms and dads, many of whom have come to Christianity as refugees from dysfunctional homes, are scared for the future and looking for answers as they scramble to raise their children in an environment healthier than the ones they experienced as kids.

It’s certainly puts perpetual presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s email list grift in perspective (boldface mine):

Huckabee is partnering with another con artist, whose con is to use people’s religious faith as a way to sell them bullshit “miracle” cancer cures and nutritional supplements…

Now let’s think about this on an individual level. Right now there’s a devout couple in their 80s who just found out that their 55-year-old daughter has cervical cancer. They’re terrified. They’d do anything to help her. And then they get an email from that nice Mike Huckabee, pointing them toward a miracle cure for cancer hidden right there in the Bible. It must be legit, because Mike Huckabee wouldn’t rope them into a scam. So they head right over to the web site, watch the video about the “Matthew 4 protocol” and the “frankincense extract,” then they send away for the free bonus gift of “The Bible’s Healing Code Revealed” which comes with a one-year subscription to Dr. Mark Stengler’s Health Revelations—half price if you’re a senior citizen!—and they whip out that credit card and start ordering all the supplements they can. They tell their daughter, with pain and fear in their voices, that this is what can cure her if only she’ll believe and they keep buying.

These are the people—gullible, afraid, at the most desperate point of their lives—that Mike Huckabee sees as marks just waiting to be scammed.

Elmer Gantry lives….

Posted in Basic Human Decency, Conservatives, Ethics | 2 Comments