Links 1/26/15

Links for you. Science:

Medieval Math Problems
The devastating impact of vaccine deniers, in one measles chart
Elizabeth Warren Proposes Big Pharma ‘Swear Jar’ To Fund Medical Research
How Anti-Vaxxers Ruined Disneyland For Themselves (And Everyone Else)
Machinery & the Mine, Quantitative Genetics & Genomics


Losing our collective nerve (very good)
What is Noah thinking? (you have to understand the limitations of your data)
Here Is the Latest Bold Lie From Thomas Friedman (conferences don’t solve many problems, but they are good for the Mustache of Wisdom’s bank account)
The Atrocious, Forgotten Style of the Planet Hollywood Era
Help wanted: Fast food cashier, $15 an hour
Blame Republicans, Not Madison, for Gridlock
Higher Education, Wages, and Polarization
The Air and Space Museum needs a new skin
“Yes Virginia, all that money printing did show up as inflation”
Inside the Stunning Mosques of Shiraz, Iran
O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
Institutions Usually Beat Genius
Why The Test Debate Is About Politics, Not Education
U.S. education policy: Federal overreach or reaching for the wrong things?
Ben Carson Shilled Scam AIDS And Cancer Cures For 10 Years, Will Be Your Next President Obvs
‘Sure, People Are Talking About Prison Reform, but They Aren’t Actually Doing Anything.’
‘American Sniper’ Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize
“If Reagan is Not Risen…”
What Would Martin Say?
Do New Parents Tend To Flee D.C.? The Numbers Point To ‘Yes’ (interesting in that if you can keep them until their kids are 4 years old, they stay)

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Church Moderne

First Trinity Lutheran Church, Judiciary Square, D.C.:

First Lutheran

Side view:

<First Lutheran

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Education Spending Does Matter

We’ve discussed Kirabo Jackson’s important work that demonstrated how the long-term effects of teachers on ‘life outcomes’ is very poorly correlated with subject matter scores–something that education ‘reformers’ seem to not discuss (odd that). Well, he’s back with a new study looking at the effects of spending on long-term outcomes (boldface mine):

A new paper from economists C. Kirabo Jackson, Rucker Johnson and Claudia Persico suggests that it is. To disentangle correlation from causation, they look at periods from 1955 through 1985 when courts ordered governments to spend more on schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade. They then track how students in those areas did, up through 2011. The result is a very detailed long-term picture of the effect of spending more money on education.

The economists find that spending works. Specifically, they find that a 10 percent increase in spending, on average, leads children to complete 0.27 more years of school, to make wages that are 7.25 percent higher and to have a substantially reduced chance of falling into poverty. These are long-term, durable results. Conclusion: throwing money at the problem works.

Here’s the hitch: The authors find that the benefits of increased spending are much stronger for poor kids than for wealthier ones. So if you, like me, are in the upper portion of the U.S. income distribution, you may be reading this and thinking: “Why should I be paying more for some poor kid to be educated?” After all, why should one person pay the cost while another reaps the benefits?

To answer Noah’s question (though he makes some good enlightened self-interest appeals), we should do this because we shouldn’t be assholes. Seriously, if you have to ask why you help an underprivileged child (to be clear, Noah is asking a rhetorical question), then you’re missing circuits in your fucking head. We flush toilets with laser beams, we can do this.

The other point worth noting is that all of the ‘throwing buckets of money at problems doesn’t work’ bullshit is, well, bullshit. Lots of children in the U.S. simply don’t have access to the same level of resources other children do. Oddly enough, this is reflected in their educational and long-term outcomes. If we refuse to harden our hearts, we can do something about that.

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Links 1/25/15

Links for you. Science:

This is what happens when a paleontologist attacks Kesha on Twitter
U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit: Animal Welfare at Risk in Experiments for Meat Industry (I once applied for a job at the USDA Clay Center facility. Glad on many levels to not have been offered it)
Chimps and gorillas desperately need Ebola vaccine too – virus has wiped out a third of them
First DNA tests say Kennewick Man was Native American
Do 80% of Americans not know there’s DNA in food?


After the State of the Union (excellent)
Hey France, Don’t Do What We Did After 9/11 (must-read)
High test scores at many charter schools may actually be “false positives”
Here’s how Obama’s capital gains tax plan hits the 1% where they live (better late than never I suppose…)
The Many Lives of Hazel Bryan: In the most famous photo of the civil rights era, she was the face of white bigotry. Here’s what she did with the rest of her life. (even in the pre-internet era, you couldn’t always outrun a bad picture)
What went wrong with Metro’s emergency response?
The red stars and stripes of D.C.’s flag lend themselves to all sorts of creativity
Comic Book Readers, New York City, 1947
American Sniper makes Tarantino’s over-the-top movie our sad reality
New SAT, New Problems: The questions, particularly those in the math sections, could put certain students at a disadvantage.
The Museum of the Future Is Here: Some things belong in a museum. But at the Smithsonian’s recently reopened museum of design, a team has been rethinking what a thing is in the first place.
Hacker Mythologies and Mismanagement: Myths about engineering management harm projects. This makes them annoying and expensive. They also harm people. This makes them dangerous.
A new way for insurers to give doctors headaches
WBUR Poll: Bostonians Back Olympic Bid, But Also Want A Referendum
New York Winter from Above

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Observed on Q Street, between 11th and 12th, Logan Circle, D.C.:


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Customers of Versus Participants in: The Problem With the U.S. Left

While this is a description of the European left, it also seems relevant to the Democratic Party in the U.S. (boldface mine):

But Mair – an expert on the evolution of political parties and party systems – makes a strong case that leftwing parties in Europe today have become profoundly disassociated from their voters. This is in part because of ordinary people withdrawing from political parties – the membership of mass parties has collapsed over the last few decades. However, it is also because the elites of parties don’t rely on mass membership to provide resources – instead they rely on resources from the state and networks where they are firmly embedded with other elites. The result is that European political parties rather than representing their constituents to the state, tend to represent the state and its imperatives to their constituents.

This helps explain the extraordinary haplessness of mainstream leftwing parties faced with the politics of austerity….

European voters, mainstream European parties and European leaders have increasingly learned how to live without effective participatory democracy. And now it’s biting the social democratic left.

The key is the reliance on “networks where they are firmly embedded with other elites.” Many of these same elites that confer resources and legitimization–as well as a life after politics–are opposed to the desires of the Democratic rank-and-file. So we don’t get to have nice things.

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Links 1/24/15

Links for you. Science:

A one-grant limit: NIH institute puts squeeze on flush investigators (seems like this policy, if it doesn’t allow some overlap will cause a lot of lab techs to lose their jobs)
When the rats are away, Galapagos tortoises can play
The secret to curing West Africa from Ebola is no secret at all
Why is diagnosing ear infections so hard?
K-means clustering is not a free lunch


Rand Paul’s back hurts. My heart bleeds. (excellent)
Boston Mayor Fires I-93 Protester
Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others
Brad DeLong and the true nature of neoclassical economics
State’s steps to control HIV seen as model for nation
Over 80 percent of Americans support “mandatory labels on foods containing DNA”
Mark Wahlberg, Penance and Pardons (though we should treat all felons who have done their time more leniently)
Piketty’s response to Mankiw et al.: “and some consume academics.”
Obama’s new tax plan would go straight after Mitt Romney’s money
Police Investigate Family for Letting Their Kids Walk Home Alone. Parents, We All Need to Fight Back.
Hating Good Government
Dupont Underground Seeks Success in a Space Haunted by Failure
Quite Simply, a Masterpiece
Were poor people to blame for the housing crisis?
Eric Holder Ends Horrible Civil Asset Forfeiture Program

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