Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Harvest of Fall Tabs

The tabs have been piling up lately, so here goes.

Cory Doctorow recently published a novella online. It's called Lawful Interception, and it's a sequel to Little Brother and Homeland. After a severe earthquake in the Bay Area, Occupy's attempts to rebuild Oakland are met with police brutality, which requires a typically Doctorowian response. This is my favorite quote: "A guy without a badge who hits you over the head with a club isn’t a cop, he’s a mugger."

Cellulite: The Women's Disease that Doesn't Exist. Cellulite, it turns out, is a secondary sex characteristic of being a human female, not a treatable condition you need to be ashamed of. It's present in 98 percent of females, which is the same percentage who have breasts. Cellulite as a disease was invented by Vogue magazine in 1969.

I love this rec room photo:

As they described it on Boing Boing: "It is the rec-room none of us would ever be allowed to behold, for none of us is pure enough for a rec-room such as this."

A recent thread on Reddit asked "What is the dirty little or big secret about an industry you have worked in, that people outside the industry really ought to know?" Lots of interesting stuff in the responses, but the one that hit the big time was about the funeral home industry. Suffice it to say, don't believe anything an undertaker says, including the "fact" that they're family-owned and local. Two large companies have been buying up most of the funeral homes across the country.

You may have heard that when orchestras institute "blind" auditions, they -- miraculously -- hire more women musicians (source pdf, September 2000.) A more recent study found that music competitions are more likely won because of how the performers look and/or how they behave during their performances, rather than how their music sounded. That could result from any combination of sexism, racism, looksism, or the intensity of the feeling communicated by the performer during the performance. The findings were the same no matter how musically sophisticated the audience was.

The incidence of major fires in Boston has declined incredibly over the last 40 years, from 417 in 1975 to just 40 in 2012. This according to the Boston Globe in a story about the coming fight to close fire stations throughout the city. Just another example of how some things are getting better as time marches on.

I already didn't like dollar stores -- especially after hearing that some are owned by Art Pope, a major funder of right-wing causes -- but this exposé made me even more sure. It details the ways the three largest chains cheat their workers out of their already-low wages, and especially how the "managers" of the stores get screwed most of all.

Check out these photos of what Cincinnati looked like before the interstates were built.

An inspiring story of how to farm with high yields and still build the soil: Fall/winter cover crops and a third crop (wheat) in rotation with the corn and soybeans. The result is lots of earthworms, no erosion, and almost no fertilizer needed.

Cartoonist and bike advocate Andy Singer has a new book out: Why We Drive, reviewed here in the Pioneer Press. I'll have to pick up a copy!

A recent study suggests Southern slavery turns white people into Republicans 150 years later. Essentially, "whites who currently live in counties that had high concentrations of slaves in 1860 are on average more conservative and express colder feelings towards African Americans than whites who live elsewhere in the South." And you can see the 1860 map they used in the study here. Some counties had up to 90 percent of their residents enslaved. I read that Abraham Lincoln used to look at this map frequently.

Three articles from an excellent Slate series on living to be an old age: Long lives made humans human, which explores how human civilization began to make great leaps forward once it became common to live long enough to be a grandparent (around the age of 30). Why are you not dead yet? asks what innovations have happened in the last century or so that you know have saved your life. The cool thing here is that life expectancy in the West started climbing decades before vaccines and antibiotics. Clean water, sanitation, and improving nutrition probably had a lot to do with it. And finally, Fourteen oddball reasons you're not dead yet. Satellites, cotton instead of wool, fluoridated water, and my personal favorite after my trip to Europe -- window screens. All stories by Laura Helmuth.

Start schooling later than age five. A group of British early-childhood experts goes against the preschool-for-all wave. I think early childhood education is fine at early ages, but it shouldn't be an academic form of schooling. Imaginative play in a book-rich setting is what young kids need, not drilling on letters and vocabulary. I love the quote from the pro-testing, start 'em young government spokesperson: "These people represent the powerful and badly misguided lobby who are responsible for the devaluation of exams and the culture of low expectations in state schools. We need a system that aims to prepare pupils to solve hard problems in calculus or be a poet or engineer." As if people become creative thinkers like poets or engineers by drilling and killing from an early age. Sheesh.

More wisdom from David Wong at Cracked: The 6 Weirdest Things We've Learned Since 9/11.

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