Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Overwhelming Tabs of June

Cheap clothes are just cheap. 85 percent of all clothes sold in the U.S. each year end up in landfills, according to SMART, the clothes recycling association (yes, another association). The ones that get donated to charities -- and which we all imagine are used by people as, you know, clothing -- mostly get recycled. 30 percent of donated clothes become wiping cloths, 20 percent are turned into other things like carpet padding. It's a cut-throat business. The cheap clothes everyone buys these days from Walmart and H&M are worthless for resale; they can't even be sold overseas because poor people don't want them either. (From NPR)

Did you ever wonder what happened to all of those 1980s "crack babies"? A cool site called the Retro Report offers the public service of looking into old news stories to update with a dose of reality. Crack babies are a subject I've long wondered about, so I'm glad to finally know it turns out they weren't doomed after all, and alcohol does a lot more damage.

MinnPost recently ran a neat story with graphs that show the polarization in the Minnesota Legislature, and how Minnesota compares with other states. Some really cool data, though discouraging information, of course. But check out this particular graph of the members of the Minnesota Senate a few years ago:

That guy, Tom Emmer, who's circled down in the lower left corner -- the one who's the most polarized of the polarized -- yeah, him -- he's the one who just declared to run for Michele Bachmann's recently vacated seat.

You know how historical fiction is fond of portraying characters who look just like their great-great-grandfather, or some such? Well, it turns out we're not very closely related to our forebearers. By 10 generations, we're no more related to them, genetically, than we are to some random person on the street. (From Nautilus)

Why scientists should cut the jargon. MPR's Kerrie Miller interviewed science-education crusader Alan Alda and several scientists recently, reinforcing Maggie Koerth-Baker's argument along the same lines.

Two different arguments for why it's sometimes necessary to feed the trolls from Jessica Valenti and Jay Smooth.

A thought experiment: If superheroes acted like God, would they still be considered the good guys? "If you were never told that the God of the bible is good – if those verses were omitted – would you come to that conclusion on your own?"

Bubbler, Coke, or hoagie. 22 maps that show dialect diversity in American English. I never even noticed before how I say "been," "syrup" and "mayonnaise."

From a New York Times article about Google Glass and the problem of thinking hands-free operation means the brain can process all those distractions, this excellent illustration by Post Typography:

Solar energy costs are dropping precipitously. " plants now cost less than a dollar per watt of capacity. Power-station construction costs can add $4 to that, but these, too, are falling as builders work out how to do the job better. And running a solar power station is cheap because the fuel is free. Coal-fired plants, for comparison, cost about $3 a watt to build in the United States, and natural-gas plants cost $1. But that is before the fuel to run them is bought." (From

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