Monday, November 12, 2012

Tabs for the First Day Like Winter

It must have been the election, but the number of tabs open in my browsers has proliferated to the point where nothing is working. So it's time to close as many as possible and consign them to the great filing cabinet in the sky.

The Star Tribune's excuse for a conservative columnist, Jason Lewis, published one of the silliest pieces of writing I've read in a long time yesterday. Every point he makes about the voter ID law's defeat is stupid or wrong. I'll let MinnPost's Eric Black do the full critique, but I have to point out the thing that made me exclaim aloud: Lewis's labeling of Republican former Governor Arne Carlson as the "accidental" governor. While that adjective could be used to describe how Carlson got into office, it doesn't change the fact that Carlson is widely regarded as the best governor Minnesota's had in the past 50 years, one who built consensus across party lines in a way that is almost never done. Even people like me agree with that assessment. But, of course, working with the other party makes Carlson a RINO to extremists like Lewis.

To make up for running Lewis, the Strib outdid itself on page A13, compiling stories from a range of sources and on a bunch of science and health topics:

  • The most recent thinking shows that predictions of global warming are likely to come out on the high end of the ranges that have been modeled -- 8 degrees or more, rather than 3.
  • A report showing evidence that exercise may be more important to longevity than maintaining a normal weight.
  • Preliminary evidence that statins, which are used to treat high cholesterol, may also inhibit reduce cancer deaths.
  • Clear indication that fish oil supplements don't decrease the risk of stroke, though eating fish does have a small effect, although it may not be causal relationship, as indicated in my favorite quote: "When you eat fish more frequently, you eat smaller amounts of potentially bad proteins like red meat." (same link as the statin story).
  • Resveratrol (that thing in red wine we've all heard about) has no effect, good or bad, on healthy, non-obese women (same link as the statin story).

Did you know that the federal government spends about $7 per senior for each $1 it spends on kids? That's according to Ron Brownstein in the National Journal.

This is getting lots of coverage, but in case you didn't hear, at the same time Occupy Wall Street is digging in to help people after Hurricane Sandy, it has also started the Rolling Jubilee.

Someone at OWS had the brilliant idea to buy up debts for pennies on the dollar -- just like the debt collection sharks do -- but instead of collecting it, the new "owners" will forgive the debt. They're raising money through donations and a concert scheduled for November 15. The approximately $100,000 raised so far is enough to cancel over $2 million of debt.

The Rockaways area of Queens was particularly hard-hit by Sandy, and the recovery there is very slow. In fact, it sounds like it can't even be called a recovery -- it's still in triage. Doctors Without Borders has even set up one of their field clinics. The Huffington Post today published a super-long piece on all of the areas of New York and New Jersey that were flooded, and how those places were developed in spite of clear knowledge that they were flood zones. Development in the Rockaways stands out for its utter disregard for human life:
On the eastern end of the peninsula, the city built huge public housing complexes. The Rockaways contained 57 percent of all low-income housing in the borough of Queens by 1975, though it contained only five percent of its population, according to a history of the region in the publication City Limits.

Nursing homes, many established in the pre-air conditioning era when ocean breezes were welcome, crowd the narrow peninsula. Today, half of all such facilities in the city are in the Rockaways, many directly adjacent to the ocean. (emphasis added)

The 100th anniversary of World War I is coming up, and British Prime Minister David Cameron has plans for celebrations. The Guardian reminds us why it's not something to celebrate, and what was behind it in the first place.

There's a documentary in production about food co-ops, and here's a 15-minute clip about our Twin Cities food co-ops. I'm one co-op stalker who can't wait to see the whole film!

I loved the story on NPR Weekend Edition Saturday about composer John Williams. He's recently turned 80, and shows no sign of slowing down. "I'm happy to be busy," he said. "I'm happy to have a wonderful family. And I think also, especially for practicing musicians, age is not so much of a concern because a lifetime is just simply not long enough for the study of music anyway. You're never anywhere near finished. So the idea of retiring or putting it aside is unthinkable. There's too much to learn."

Sometimes I think the future of humankind can be seen in musicians.

There are lots more tabs sitting open... but I think that's enough for now.

No comments: