Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tabs: Abortion, Sex Discrimination, Salmon, Poverty, and Wal-Mart

I caught the last half hour or so of a conversation between Frances Kissling, founder of Catholics for Choice, and David Gushee, a Christian ethicist, on Krista Tippett's public radio show the Civil Conversations Project. I still have to listen to the rest of it, but the part I heard was the most honest conversation I think I've ever heard between two people who disagree on this topic. (The exact opposite of this classic Saturday Night Live Point/Counterpoint from 1978, with Jane Curtin and Dan Ackroyd.)

As always, a great story from Maggie Koerth-Baker, this time reporting on research quantifying unintended wage and employment discrimination, based on the applicants' sex:

The researchers gave the same application materials and resume to two sets of scientists and told the scientists to evaluate the candidate for a position as laboratory manager. Half the scientists got the materials with a male name attached. Half saw a female name. The scientists gave the male name a higher rating on competency, hireability, and their own willingness to mentor "him". They also offered "him" a higher starting salary — $30,238, compared to $26,507 for the female name.

The catch: These trends held regardless of whether the scientist doing the hiring was male or female, and none of the scientists used sexist language or sexist arguments as justification for their decisions.

Oops, there was another cool article from Maggie: Did you hear the one about the frozen salmon that was seeing things? No? This story includes more than you ever thought you'd need to know about fMRI machines and the artifacts of brain scans.

I've long been fascinated and outraged by the way our country computes the poverty line. (To summarize, it has something to do with the cost of a particular basket of food products that were common in 1955, multiplied by three. Yes, really. That's it.) Cynthia Boyd at MinnPost had a nice write up on who's poor, how that's figured out, and what may be changing about it.

Did you know that workers at several Wal-Mart stores are on strike in California? Yes, they are, more power to them.

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