Links 9/22/18

Links for you. Science:

NIH Policies to Address Sexual and Gender Harassment in NIH-supported Extramural Research
Repositive to Launch Personalized Cancer Model Matching Service
FDA Mulls Guidelines for NGS-Based Infectious Disease Diagnostics
Why Rainfall Is Hurricane Florence’s Biggest Danger, Not Its Category
Sex, Lies, and Grappling Hooks: How Parasitic Beetles Trick Bees


What do we owe her now?
Kavanaugh and the question of torture
Freddie Oversteegen, Dutch resistance fighter who killed Nazis through seduction, dies at 92
Here’s why the allegation against Kavanaugh is credible: He’s smeared and attacked women before
Russia is mocking us. First the Salisbury attack, then information warfare. Time to wake up
Religion and Racism Still Go Hand-in-Hand In the GOP
Brett Kavanaugh and the Revealing Logic of ‘Boys Will Be Boys’
Spiders blamed after broken siren played creepy nursery rhymes randomly at night to UK townsfolk
Every Weekend Should Be a 3-Day Weekend
Lying to buy a gun? Don’t worry about the feds.
‘You can’t mistreat us’: Park Service volunteers push back, saying conditions are hostile and unsafe
If Jeff Bezos wants to help low-income people why not just pay them better?
Stop Calling It Philanthropy (maybe ‘unelected, unaccountable governance’?)
Collateral Damage: Caught Between Gun Violence And Aggressive Policing
Jay Gonzalez’s revenue plan would tax state’s major colleges and universities
Trump really hates apologizing for misogyny and racism. New reporting explains why.
I Came of Age During the 2008 Financial Crisis. I’m Still Angry About It.
Kavanaugh’s accuser should have spoken up sooner? Give me a break.
Gif showing the transformation of downtown Providence, 1951-2018 which illustrates the massive impact urban renewal and highway construction have had on the landscape of the city.
Sholem Aleichem’s Revolutionary Chickens, and a Yom Kippur Tradition

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

The Conservative Con Rolls On

U.S. Foreign Policy Always Requires An Opponent. Sanders Found A Good One

Bloomberg Should Run For President. As A Republican

Several Thoughts On Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh And Degenerate ‘Suburban’ Culture

Fairness And D.C.’s Traffic Fines

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Links 9/21/18

Links for you. Science:

The Meteorological Strangeness Of Hurricane Florence
Half of dead baby turtles found by Australian scientists have stomachs full of plastic
A third dimension helps Tokamak fusion reactor avoid wall-destroying instability
Changing the culture of science to end sexual harassment
Flu season is coming. A pediatrician talks about why you should get your child vaccinated.


Women in D.C. Face Obstacles at Every Step of Pregnancy and Childbirth
The Economy Under Trump: Business Optimism Combined with Inequality
Concentrated Poverty – The Critical Mass
Donald Trump Doesn’t Care About Puerto Rico
It happened there: how democracy died in Hungary
The Tale of Public Education in Two TIME Magazine Covers (and education media coverage in general)
Facebook’s idea of ‘fact-checking’: Censoring ThinkProgress because conservative site told them to
The Supreme Court Is an Antidemocratic Hot Mess—and We Should Change That
Waiting passengers watching coin-operated TVs, Greyhound bus station, Los Angeles c.1969
Expanding the Pipeline for Progressive Talent
Is Boston’s luxury condo market shortchanging affordable housing?
Trump’s false claims about Puerto Rico are insulting. But they reveal a deeper truth.
Money Pit
Jumping the Abyss: Marriner S. Eccles and the New Deal, 1933-1940
Even in Better Times, Some Americans Seem Farther Behind. Here’s Why.
Facebook Condemned for Empowering Right-Wing Magazine to “Drive Liberal News Outlets Into the Ground”
10 Things People Still Get Wrong About the Financial Crisis
Why Philanthropy Is Bad for Democracy

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Fairness And D.C.’s Traffic Fines

Last week, the Washington City Paper ran a story about D.C.’s speeding cameras that implied and argued that D.C. is using them to generate reveunue (it accounts for about 1.3% of D.C.’s gross revenues). There are some problems with D.C.’s approach. The fines are too high, especially for lower-income people, and the fines shouldn’t increase if payment is late–too many people have a hard time paying the original fine, never mind a doubling. Likewise, licenses shouldn’t be suspended simply because someone can’t afford to pay the fines (losing the ability to drive will only make paying off the fine that much harder).

The larger issue is that the cameras–many of which are mobile–shouldn’t be used as ‘ambush’ cameras. The goal isn’t to make people wonder if they’re driving past a camera everywhere in D.C.: people become desensitized to that level of hypervigilance and resume driving dangerously. The goal should be to use these cameras when changing traffic flows, either through traffic light regulation or fixing roads (e.g., traffic bulb outs), isn’t practical. That means drivers should be made aware that, if they break the law right here (or over there), they will be fined. It’s a second-best option compared to structural changes, but in many places, and those places are often disproportionately non-white, as these areas have wider roads that are used for ‘thru traffic’, this is the only solution (and racial disparities in less safe roads and more vehicle-related air pollution are also problems too).

That said, the argument that the time between the infraction and the penalty (i.e., the fine) is too long is silly. The ticket tells you where it happened, and, given how bent out of shape drivers seem to be by the fines, it’s clear they are noticed. This is not the equivalent of a criminal receiving multiple slaps on the wrist, until he escalates to murder and then is jailed. People notice the fine, though a shorter delay would mean they would start obeying the traffic laws sooner.

Speaking of traffic laws, let’s review D.C.’s. Unless a different speed is posted, the default speed limit is 25 mph. Here are some of the fines for various infractions:


If you were ticketed for $150, either you blew through a red light or you were doing at least 41 mph. At that speed, a pedestrian or a cyclist dies in a collision. While the ideal solution is to massively improve public transit for all parts of the city, until that happens, dangerous driving does need to be penalized. And I have no sympathy for someone who, in the course of several years, racked up $3,400 in tickets. Look at the list of fines and think about how bad you have to be at driving (or even basic impulse control) to get that many fines.

Again, the best solution would be to improve mass transit, especially in lower-income areas (which would have multiple benefits). In lieu of that, the presence of cameras should be made clear so people change their driving behavior, the fines shouldn’t increase with late payment, and licenses shouldn’t be suspended for payment issues*.

*Suspensions for bad driving, absolutely.

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Links 9/20/18

Links for you. Science:

Roswell Biotechnologies Harnesses Molecular Electronics for Chip-Based DNA Sequencing
Appeals court upholds CRISPR patents awarded to the Broad Institute
The Mysterious Green Orbs That Float by Day and Sink at Night
‘I Want to Burn Things to the Ground’
Meet the new species of deep-sea fish so gooey it melts when brought to the surface


Voting in New York Is an Undemocratic Disgrace (also see here and here)
Trump’s Psychotic Puerto Rico Tweets Erase Human Beings From Existence for Political Gain
A testable theory about the FBI investigation of Kavanaugh that Feinstein has prompted (it would be irresponsible not to speculate, given how everyone else associated with the Trump Administration behaves…)
Ten Years After the Crash, We’ve Learned Nothing
Stephanie Kelton Wants You to Rethink the Deficit
Meet the other empty nesters. They’re dogs and they miss the kids, too
Reports of Widespread Voter Suppression in New York State Democratic Primary
How Will Police Solve Murders on Mars?
We’re Measuring the Economy All Wrong
What It’s Like Dating a Psychopath
Rethinking What Gifted Education Means, and Whom It Should Serve
The Black Cat Is Closing Its Downstairs Space
A Good Tweet!
Collapse of council candidate’s campaign marks latest defeat for D.C. businesses (and a victory for D.C. workers…)
Fury and Loathing in Fengtai: How One Incident Sparked Chaos in Beijing Neighborhood
Bus transformation #1: Improve the service
Fundraisers for Sick Restaurant Employees Represent the Failure of American Health Care

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Brett Kavanaugh And Degenerate ‘Suburban’ Culture

Or maybe it should be called elite rape culture. From the Washington Post (boldface mine):

She and a friend went to a house in Washington’s Tenleytown neighborhood packed with high school kids, including a throng of boys from Gonzaga College High School and Georgetown Preparatory School. There was a lot of beer. A few fights broke out. Lanyi recalls being pawed and kissed. It freaked her out. She hadn’t been drinking, but her friend, also an eighth-grader, had.

Lanyi turned around to see a large freshman from one of the schools lying on top of her friend. Lanyi, then a petite 13-year-old, shoved the boy and kicked him. The boy was surprised and appealed to Lanyi to let him continue. “I’ll never get her number otherwise,” he told her. She took her friend and left.

Lanyi has thought about that night often since Sunday, when Christine Blasey Ford publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was a 15-year-old student at Holton-Arms School and he was a 17-year-old student at Georgetown Prep. She has thought about stories of male entitlement and drunken sexual assault she heard from classmates while she was a student at Prep’s Bethesda neighbor, Stone Ridge of the Sacred Heart, and the many more stories she has heard in the years since their graduation.

There was a lot of shame and stigma then if a girl was raped, so girls tried to hide it. They didn’t tell anyone,” Lanyi said. “The term ‘date rape’ wasn’t something that even existed then. So if it happened, it was always kind of the girl’s fault.”

Lanyi’s recollection of a private school culture suffused by alcohol and drugs — and frequent if unreported sexual assault or misbehavior — is widely shared by students who attended those schools in the 1980s. It was, they recalled, an era marked by excess and illegality that went widely unchecked by parents and school leaders who were unaware or uninterested in cracking down on the behavior.

More on degenerate suburban culture:

They described parties with kegs of beer and bottles of liquor, grain punch, heavy drinking and drug use that took place almost every weekend and even on weeknights in private homes, parks, open fields and golf courses in Maryland and Washington. Until 1986, the drinking age in Washington was 18, and alcohol was easily accessible. Drugs, especially cocaine and quaaludes, were plentiful.

Women who attended those parties remember sexually aggressive behavior by some of the male students that often bordered on assault and was routinely fueled by excessive drinking.

“Most of the guys at these schools were really decent, nice guys, but there was a small minority that was popular and was out of control,” said a woman who attended Georgetown Visitation in the early 1980s and asked not to be identified. “I never got dragged into a bedroom, but that . . . happened to girls all the time.”

Another woman who did not want to be identified said what she witnessed and what happened to her friends left her scarred three decades later.

It was just a horrible culture,” she said. “I never married, I don’t have kids, and I trace it all back to those parties.”

All of the women interviewed for this story took pains to point out that not all of the students at the all-boys schools took part in this culture. But the problem was widespread and toxic, they said.

One doubts things will change:

This story is based on interviews with two dozen former students, many of whom asked not to be identified because of how tightly knit and powerful the alumni from those schools are, and because they fear retribution or harassment for speaking out on the allegations engulfing Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Keep in mind, a disproportionate fraction of our elite either were part of this culture, or gladly had their kids participate in it (and were unaware of it, often willfully, as the article notes). Our national political media will have a hard time covering this, because they are awful at covering themselves.

You are defined by the things you have done. Without acknowledging the harm you have done and making amends, these are corrupting, this is corruption. And this is our complicit elite. Might explain a few things.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Links 9/19/18

Links for you. Science:

Meet The Four-Dimensional Numbers That Led to Modern Algebra
A single gene mutation may have helped humans become optimal long-distance runners
Should ‘Race’ Be Taught in High School Biology?
He Was Dying. Antibiotics Weren’t Working. Then Doctors Tried a Forgotten Treatment. (been saying for many years that the problems are regulatory and economic, not technical)
Probiotics: If you don’t just poop them out, they may muck up your guts
Otto the octopus wreaks havoc


As Germans Seek News, YouTube Delivers Far-Right Tirades
Why Do We Pledge Allegiance?
Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea
The Black Cat is shrinking by half. Why? Because punks don’t live there anymore.
A witch hunt or a quest for justice: An insider’s perspective on disgraced academic Avital Ronell (how was she seen as indispensable?)
The Military Men of Twitter Who Are Defying Soldier Stereotypes
Crumbling concrete, leaking roofs, and busted elevators: the state of the T
Fifteen years? Figure out a faster way to fix the T
As Germans Seek News, YouTube Delivers Far-Right Tirades
Why Do We Pledge Allegiance?
Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea
The Black Cat is shrinking by half. Why? Because punks don’t live there anymore.
A witch hunt or a quest for justice: An insider’s perspective on disgraced academic Avital Ronell (how was she seen as indispensable?)
In Britain, Calls for a 4-Day Week. Can It Be Done?
Crumbling concrete, leaking roofs, and busted elevators: the state of the T
The Bailouts for the Rich Are Why America Is So Screwed Right Now
Key supporter of Murkowski, Alaska Federation of Natives, announces opposition to Kavanaugh
Cynthia Nixon loses and wins
Pension fund socialism: the illusion that just won’t die

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