Friday, November 27, 2015

Late November Tabs

The tabs are not heavy enough to overwhelm the browser yet, but they're heavy in other ways. Time to clear them out of my head and into yours.

In the early years of the Reagan administration, a report called "A Nation at Risk" began our most recent wave of education reform. The report was misquoted, misinterpreted, and sometimes completely wrong. Education at Risk: Fallout from a Flawed Report. Diane Ravitch has written previously about the same report here.

Here's a great xkcd-style cartoon about the illogic of conservative Christian fears of Muslims, among other things. It started out as a Facebook post, but when Facebook removed it because of complaints, the writer, Andy McClure, tried his hand at drawing it out. For a more scientific look at why some people fear refugees, here's a Vox write-up on some of the research on that question.

I let it go by at the time, but I didn't want to overlook the "compassionate conservative" response we've been hearing to the criminalization of heroin addiction, now that it's become a more prevalent problem in predominantly white states and communities. "When people of color are using illicit drugs, it’s a character flaw, a lack of integrity, and maybe even an inherent criminality that simply requires the right substance and circumstance to become addiction. Where was the call for leniency then?" By Stacey Patton, writing for Dame Magazine.

The psychology of driving: why is it so frustrating?

The black-white sleep gap: an unexpected challenge in the quest for racial equity. " par­ti­cipants who were denied slow-wave sleep for three nights—re­search­ers would sound an alarm in their ears when they entered this sleep phase—be­came less sens­it­ive to in­sulin, a pre­curs­or to dia­betes." Black participants in the study got 25 percent less slow-wave sleep than white participants, and that gap is significant because the white participants were getting just the amount of slow-wave sleep needed for good health, and the black participants were not. Black folks also got significantly less total sleep (6.05 hours vs. 6.85 hours). "Neigh­bor­hoods also ap­pear to mat­ter when it comes to sleep health. 'I have nev­er seen a study that hasn’t shown a dir­ect as­so­ci­ation between neigh­bor­hood qual­ity and sleep qual­ity,'" said one researcher.

Why the Left isn't talking about rural poverty. From In These Times.

Clean energy creates some jobs and destroys others. Here’s what that tells us about politics. By David Roberts, writing for Vox.

How we became the “Jailhouse Nation”: Historians discuss mass incarceration in the U.S. From the blog of the American Historical Association.

I don't think I've given my opinion here about the kinds of deductibles we face for health insurance these days, whether through self-insured plans or increasingly through employer-funded plans. I don't know about you, but my family-of-three's deductible for 2016 will be $4,700 (with a premium around $1,200 a month). That is a lot of money for household with a pretax income of 77,000, where the ACA subsidies cut out. Some people like to say we need "skin in the game" to make sure we don't overuse medical services, and that's where the deductible comes in. But I think patients don't have enough information to judge which services are needed and which are not. Self-rationing because of cost leads to bad decisions. This recent study, written up by Vox, agrees with me.

How about that gerrymandering? This computer programmer solved gerrymandering in his spare time. I'd be willing to give up the completely "safe" Democratic districts in Minnesota (4 and 5, held by Keith Ellison of Minneapolis and Betty McCollum of St. Paul) to get some fairness in most of the other states whose district maps would be transformed like this:

Next time you have to argue with someone who says the mainstream media have a liberal bias, refer to this article from the Weekly Sift. As usual, it's not as simple as "common sense" would have it.

Mentally ill people aren’t killers. Angry people are. The real way to stop violence. "Family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate anger, express it constructively, and move beyond it." From Slate.

In case you didn't hear about it in that liberal mainstream media (I didn't), the Koch brothers have a large infrastructure dedicated to spying on "the Left." Yes. They call it "competitive intelligence."

If you want to figure out if a particular electric vehicle is cleaner overall than a gas-powered one, check out this calculator from the Union of Concerned Scientists. It computes everything from the manufacture of the cars to the power sources used by the grid in your location.

Poverty is really bad for people -- especially children -- and just as investing in universal preschool pays back up to $10 for every $1 invested, it seems plausible to me that eliminating poverty would pay off even more. Could universal basic income be the social vaccine of the 21st century? Yes, just give them money. It works. And we could pay for it with higher taxes, and we'd all like it. Really.

One of the ways the poverty undermines poor families and their children is because they have to move constantly. Sociologist Matthew Desmond has been researching eviction on the ground with people who are experiencing it. Here's an article describing some of his findings, and here's the book he's published. (Oh, and great cover, by the way!)

Here's a tab to keep handy: info on how much people pay into Medicare and Social Security (on average) versus how much they get out. Remember this next time someone says they're entitled to "their" Medicare but "those people" who get food stamps are moochers.

And one last insult to my sensibilities: How the “Wal-Mart effect” squeezes workers in the vast infrastructure behind your groceries. Outsourcing distribution has been an effective way for grocers to dump their relatively expensive unionized workforces.

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