Links 2/13/16

Links for you. Science:

Natural History Museums Are Teeming With Undiscovered Species
Stereotypes about Native Americans and alcohol debunked
Obama’s last budget proposal tackles antibiotic resistance, opioid abuse, climate change
Does Zika Cause Shrunken Heads? Here’s What We Actually Know
These Scientists Saw Zika Coming. Now They’re Fighting Back

Other:

Celebrated Photographer: Yes, That Is Bernie Sanders. Time Magazine Is Lying.
A majority of low-wage workers earn so little they must rely on public assistance to make ends meet (related posts here and here)
Bernie Has Emily Ratajkowski and Killer Mike. Hillary Has the Delegates.
Let’s stop blaming the alcohol
“Trust Me,” Said the 401(k), “A Sucker Is Born Every Day.” (made this point a few times myself)
The odds that Hillary Clinton wins the nomination on the backs of superdelegates are extremely low
The Sanders coalition: Not what we thought it was (he’s basically doing what the New Democrats always wanted to do–and failed at doing)
While Donald Trump Was Talking, the Supreme Court Was Putting Our World at Risk
Hillary Clinton Plans To Raise Money From Industries With Interests Before The Next President
Hillary Clinton Endorsed By Congressional Black Caucus’s Corporate-Backed Political Arm
D.C. Fire’s Medical Director Quits The ‘Highly Toxic’ Agency (a rare moment of political courage that, sadly, will lead to nothing)
Hillary Clinton’s Record With African-Americans Gets Closer Scrutiny
Democracy Won in New Hampshire: Everything that was supposed to be silenced is suddenly being said (even if some of it is foul and bigoted)
The rise of Donald Trump is a terrifying moment in American politics (though I think Cruz is equally terrifying in a different way)
Why is “Laborism” an increasing influence within the Democratic Party even though union density continues to decline?
I Can’t Hate Donald Trump: I do hate the Republicans who’ve enabled his remarkable popularity.
Heatherwick Studio wants to build a tree-covered mountain in the middle of Shanghai (how do they water the trees?)
Some Ward 1 And 5 Residents Resist Sites For Homeless Shelter Plan

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The Establishment Is Getting Nervous: The Massachusetts Edition

We note this Massachusetts endorsement with interest (boldface mine):

A senior member of the Massachusetts House Democratic leadership is breaking ranks with the state’s political establishment and backing Bernie Sanders for president over Hillary Clinton, after supporting her 2008 bid.

Michael J. Moran, a Brighton Democrat and one of Speaker Robert DeLeo’s top deputies, said he will campaign Sunday for Sanders, calling him a better general-election candidate than Clinton because of Sanders’s ability to appeal to low-income voters in traditionally Republican states….

“In November, if you want to take a shot at a candidate that can build our party on a 50-state strategy where we go into the South and deliver them a message that’s ‘Hey, folks, you’ve been sold a bill of goods by the Republicans,’ I think we’ve got the candidate to do it,” Moran said. “You will see some Democratic Party growth in areas we’ve never seen it before.

“There is a big, big difference between these two candidates, at least for me there is,” Moran said Saturday, pointing to Sanders’s more liberal stances on the death penalty and single-payer health care and his long record on income inequality. “He has staked out a position on a lot of issues that I know I care about, and I would suspect a lot of Democrats in this state care about, too.”

Admittedly Brighton is a very young (age-wise) district, so this makes political sense. But it’s also interesting that Moran thinks there’s potential for a 50-state strategy.

Something to keep an eye on.

Posted in Democrats | 1 Comment

Links 2/12/16

Links for you. Science:

Backlash Over CDC Paternalism Overshadows Real Risks Of Drinking In Pregnancy
Scientists discover why our hair thins as we age
Rare Variant Studies of Common Disease
Super-speed Salmonella evolution
The World’s Longest-Running Experiment is Buried in a Secret Spot in Michigan

Other:

Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Voting for Bernie Sanders Despite the Senator’s Opposition to Reparations
Elizabeth Warren: Hillary Clinton Sold Out To Wall Street
How the Red Scare destroyed a small-town teacher: Anne Hale’s life in Wayland fell to pieces in the 1950s when informants reported her to the FBI for disloyalty to country
Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS
WARNING: RANT ALERT
Would the last person in Sydney please turn the lights out? (and if U.S. conservatives had their way…)
As Google abandons its past, Internet archivists step in to save our collective memory
A feminist’s guide to making guys like Roosh V irrelevant (identity intersects with class? My goodness!)
Walkers were left out in the cold after the ‘Snowzilla’ blizzard
Kim Jong-un Breaking Bad: The Secret World of North Korean Meth
“New Jim Crow” Author Michelle Alexander on Hillary Clinton and Mass Incarceration (note the publication)
Hillary’s Bill Clinton Problem Is More Political Than Personal
The Kids Today
Two cool things buried in President Obama’s budget, which Republicans aren’t even reading
Donald Trump doesn’t need Fox News, and that leaves Fox News dazed and confused

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

Oddly, A Transit System That Transits Poorly Doesn’t Have Many Riders

So D.C. Metro is finally coming to grips with the notion that lousy service, especially infrequent trains, discourages people from using it (boldface mine):

Total transit ridership decreased by 9.5 million since last year, amounting to 5.4 percent, according to the second quarter financial update for fiscal year 2016, which the Metro Board of Directors will discuss at Thursday’s meeting….

Rail ridership sank the most, declining 6.1 percent on weekdays and a whopping 12 percent on weekends when compared to the previous year. Average Saturday ridership was down 17 percent if the Million Man March bump in October is excluded. “The ridership declines have impacted nearly all stations, time periods and trip types and cannot be attributed to poor weather,” the report says, though notes that limited service on weekends due to track work and rebuilding contributed to the decline.

Yes, weekend service is a problem. It’s not just the lost revenue, but poor weekend service (2-3 trains each per hour) means people won’t have buy-in. If Metro becomes just another commuting option, people will be less likely to use it overall:

Apparently as rail is going down, it’s dragging the buses down, too, as the report noted that “there is evidence that rail ridership losses are impacting busses.” Though on the upside, Metrobus isn’t in it alone, since other regional bus services are also dropping at sharper rates than its bus service. So there’s always that.

I realize there’s a need for maintenance, but somehow Metro has to figure out how to make the service more reliable, especially for city residents. Since the overwhelming amount of funding comes from fares (a really stupid idea, but that’s a separate post topic), lower ridership only weakens the system.

I hate using terms like ‘death spiral’, but we are definitely veering towards negative feedback territory.

Posted in DC, Transportation | 1 Comment

Not Good For the Republican Jewish Outreach Program

Local politics is usually the best place to see the Republican id on full display (boldface mine):

The bigotry is back.

Five years ago, outside activists opposing Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, called for a “Christian conservative” to unseat the speaker, who is Jewish. The injection of religion into that race was roundly denounced — even by Straus’ declared opponents, who rejected the “deplorable personal attacks.”

What once was deplorable has now grown tolerable — mainstream, even.

Jeff Judson, a local tea party activist challenging Straus’ re-election, is sounding the same dog whistle himself, warning voters of “the disconnect between conservative, Christian voters and Joe Straus” in a rambling treatise titled “The Biblical Basis for Jeff Judson’s Candidacy for Texas House District 121 in the Republican Primary on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.”

…I called Judson on Friday to ask how Straus is disconnected from Christians.

“Now, let’s not be going into this anti-Semitic line of discussion because that’s clearly not what this is,” he said. “I say ‘Christian’ because I’m a Christian. What I’m saying is ‘biblical.’ If you know the definition of ‘biblical,’ it’s Judeo-Christian.

“There’s nothing anti-Semitic about this whatsoever,” he added. “The criticism is of Joe and his positions, which are in defiance of Judeo-Christian values.”

When I mentioned that even Straus’ declared opponents in 2010 denounced similar rhetoric, Judson said, “I totally reject that a lot of people were upset about this. There were a couple of liberal reporters that tried to make an issue about it. … Most people don’t even know that Joe is Jewish.”

That’s a smoke screen, said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson.

Candidates such as Judson “are being very careful to draw attention to their principles and commitments and letting the reader draw the conclusions that they will,” Jillson said. “They’re not talking about Joe Straus’ Jewish religious commitments. They know that’s out there. So people are going to make the comparison.”

Then there’s Ted Cruz talking about chutzpah being a ‘New York’ word. It’s not a New York word, it’s a Yiddish word (Yiddish is a Jewish creole), which is to say, a Jewish word. That’s a dog whistle.

And if you don’t believe me, then how about a former Republican House Speaker?

But the story got a little more fraught when it turned out that Manzullo once said Cantor would not be “saved” because he is Jewish.

Today, Cantor, the only Jewish House Republican, nearly affirmed that this was the reason he fought against Manzullo’s re-election, insinuating that anti-Semitism — and racism — are lingering problems among the House GOP generally. He speaking at a breakfast event organized by Politico.

Calling it the “darker side,” Cantor responded to Politico’s Mike Allen’s question of whether there is anti-semitism in Congress by trying to avoid commenting. But eventually he let up: “I think that all of us know that in this country, we’ve not always gotten it right in terms of racial matters, religious matters, whatever. We continue to strive to provide equal treatment to everybody.”

We’re talking about the House Republican Caucus, not America,” Allen pushed.

Cantor then sat in silence, grimmacing for several seconds

More heartwarming examples here. But don’t you worry, come the general election, there will be lots of #Slatepitches arguing that the Republicans are about to have massive gains among Jews any day now…

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Links 2/11/16

Links for you. Science:

What IS indirect cost money, anyway? (excellent)
How the Fight Over Transgender Kids Got a Leading Sex Researcher Fired
Pope’s Mexico trip threatens to hasten Zika’s spread
Obama administration seeks more than $1.8 billion to fight Zika virus

Other:

Hillary Clinton is about to call Bernie Sanders a fake Jew (among Jews, this very well could backfire. But if Clinton is trying to remind voters that Sanders is Jewish, it very well could work. Despicable)
Hillary Clinton needs to stop bragging about Henry Kissinger’s endorsement
Iowa Republicans could have demanded voter ID in their caucuses. They didn’t.
Success Charter School Parents Should Not Be Afraid of Eva
How Hillary Clinton Betrayed the Children’s Defense Fund for Political Gain
The idea of an African-American firewall for Hillary Clinton is deeply insulting
Sanders Campaign Is a Genuine Progressive Social Movement for Democracy
Under Sanders, income and jobs would soar, economist says
The First Jewish President
Both Clinton and Sanders are wrong about money in politics (I forgot about Johhny Chung)
The Vampire Squid Tells Us How to Vote
What Kind of Jew Is Bernie Sanders? Bernie Sanders’s religious views may seem quixotic, but they’re actually part of a longstanding American Jewish tradition
The naysayers are out in force
The Evil of Madeleine Albright: “Could you have one of our U-2s shot down?”
Burns Paiutes to Ammon Bundy: You’re not the victim

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

‘Curating’ Twitter Is Hard?

As someone who spends part of his time curating biology stuff, I don’t get this common tech press claim (boldface mine; behind paywall):

But algorithmic feeds– which yes, power users freak out about– make Twitter seem more approachable. The biggest problem, as Josh Elman and others have noted, is that curating a great Twitter following is a shit load of work. If you cave to the social pressure of adding everyone who adds you, you wind up with a garden full of weeds. Scanning it is unsatisfying and if you leave it open on your browser the growing counter of unread Tweets starts to feel like a to-do box. You want a perfect mix of people who are great thinkers and curators. Following any more than 300 people, in my experience, is completely unmanageable if you are actually looking at even 30% of your feed every day. Otherwise you give up and just check notifications.

I don’t get this: all you have to do is click and unclick the follow button. It’s just not that hard. It’s not like there’s a literature you have to read or priority decisions that have to be made.

Someone annoys you or is just tweeting lots of stuff you don’t care to read, push the button. If anything, finding people when you’re a newbie can be hard, but paring back?

Weird.

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