Thursday, October 9, 2014

More of Those Tube-Clogging Tabs

Well if that's not a title that inspires you to read on, I don't know what is.

But seriously, there's some good stuff here.

Do you wonder where you should be born the next time you're born? The Economist has a nice list of countries, based on 11 indicators. The U.S. ties with Germany at number 16. It's a bit of a weird list (Italy and France are worse than the UAE? Saudi Arabia is better than Mexico or 20+ other countries...did anyone ask the women of Saudi Arabia?).

More evidence that we don't all see the same things as eyewitnesses (or as people watching the same video). In this case, an ambiguous situation with a cop interacting with a citizen. Those whose eyes watch only the cop side with the cop… those whose eyes take in more of the scene and all the players have a more balanced understanding of what took place.

Ending a civil war: has Colombia cracked the code? An editorial from the Boston Globe, recommended by Steven Pinker (akin to positive outcomes in South African and Northern Ireland). Truth and reconciliation, people -- that's what's needed.

Two different Texas men killed cops during no-knock raids on their separate houses on separate dates. In both cases, the homeowners thought their homes were being invaded during the night. In one case, no evidence of any crime was found in the home; in the other, there was a small amount of marijuana. One man is being tried for capital murder of a police officer; the other was not charged because "his home was his castle." One man is white and one is black -- big shock -- and guess which one had the pot and which one is being charged with murder?

Did you know that no one knows how many people in the U.S. are killed by cops every year? Despite all the details our police are required to keep track of (such as how many bullets they fire), they don't have to keep record how many people they kill. Here's yet another example: Louisiana Police Officer Shoots, Kills 14-Year-Old Honor Roll Student.

I just learned about an influential Libertarian thinker named Hans-Hermann Hoppe who makes no bones about saying democracy is incompatible with the Libertarian vision of society. Whoa.

Education "reform": one more way to kill public education. Including this response to those who point out that sometimes per-pupil expenditures are higher in low-achieving schools:

What rich kids have going for them is a hugely larger expenditure per pupil-- just not in direct tax dollars to school district. Buffy and Chip may cost $10K apiece for the taxpayers, but they are also taking tennis lessons and SAT coaching and dance class and a hundred other enrichment opportunities that are not paid taxpayer. Part of being a poor kid is not having your total education subsidized by family and friends.
School counselors are important. "Adding just one counselor to a school has an enormous impact on discipline and test scores, according to a new study." To be more specific, "Hiring just one additional school counselor in an average American school could have about a third of the effect of recruiting all the school’s teachers from a pool of candidates in the top 15 percent of their profession." Minnesota -- despite its reputation for quality education -- has one of the worst ratios of counselors to students.

You may remember me mentioning something called the Paradox of Diverse Communities back in May of this year. This was a finding that the "more diverse or integrated a neighborhood is, the less socially cohesive it becomes, while the more homogenous or segregated it is, the more socially cohesive." Which I said at the time was one of the most depressing things I've ever heard, right up there with the finding that when white people are told the criminal justice system is racist, it makes them like it more. Well, here's some good news to balance out all of that negativity: A Sense of Purpose Increases Comfort With Ethnic Diversity.

And here's another one from Pacific Standard magazine: Trust Is Waning, and Inequality May Be to Blame.

Some environmental good news: How solar can become the world’s largest source of electricity by Dave Roberts at And some bad news: Water contaminant (perchlorate) linked to children's low IQs. And some in-between news: Solar power is growing so fast that older energy companies are trying to stop it.

My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me. What happens when a father, alarmed by his 13-year-old daughter's nightly workload, tries to do her homework for a week?

Yummmmmm -- bugs! A nice infographic about how insects can feed a hungry planet.

After a Manhattan bicyclist accidentally killed a pedestrian recently, I engaged in a bit of discussion with a friend on Facebook about it. A normally reasonable and progressive woman, she took the hard line that bicyclists are careless, based on the fact that she and her young-teen daughter were once buzzed by a cyclist when they had the right-of-way in a crosswalk. I pointed out that cars kill and endanger pedestrians all the time, but few people seriously say cars (or actually, their drivers) should be more restricted, and that the killer biker was a man-bites-dog situation. She stuck to her condemnation of cyclists in general. Later, I found this article by a New York cyclist that did a nice job of dealing with the nuances of the specific incident. The writer ends with this:
It is, after all, the central tragedy of traffic in New York City and many other big cities that so many people walking and cycling – using the least harmful transport modes – end up in cold mortuaries and warm intensive care units. It’s a horror that’s no less intense for being widely taken for granted. I will do everything I reasonably can to ensure I’m not responsible for putting anybody else in those places.
Why 12-foot traffic lanes are disastrous for safety and should be replaced now. From the Atlantic's CityLab. Lane widths in my city of Saint Paul are standardized on 11 feet -- not as bad as 12, but still too large.

That's it for the tabs right now. Whew.

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