Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tabs Today

Lots of tabs once again.

Starting with a logo I like! And it's a state government logo, of all things.

This is the logo for Minnesota's new health care exchange. Good job, guys!

If you drive a car and have ever wondered why bicyclists don't stop at stop signs like you have to, read this. There's even a model law to cover this, from Idaho. The gist of its requirements:

Slow down, and if required for safety, stop.

Yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching, if the approaching vehicle will create a hazard while they cross the intersection.

Proceed after appropriately slowing and yielding without stopping.

The second rule is a very permissive red light exception. While all other red light exceptions contain language that indicates that proceeding against a red light is only appropriate when the signal fails to detect a bicyclist, the exception in Idaho contains no such language. As with the “Idaho stop” the reason for the law is encouraging cycling by making it easier.
It's almost enough to make me want to move to Idaho. Minneapolis legislator Phyllis Kahn has introduced a similar law several times. (I've written about this topic before here.)

Maggie Koerth-Baker's book Before the Lights Go Out explained why it's not so easy for utility companies to incorporate solar and wind power into the ebb and flow of energy supply and demand. New research shows that the amount of energy wasted to fill the gaps between renewables and fossil fuels is vastly smaller than the amount of carbon-based fuel replaced with the renewable sources. (Hard to explain here, but pretty easy to understand in the linked article.)

Okay, so there's this jerky guy in Texas who placed a "girlfriend wanted" ad somewhere. He made lots of racist and anti-fat comments. But the thing that made me laugh out loud at him was his clueless and over-capitalized description of himself:
I am an Artist, Musician, Poet, Composer, Performer, Businessman, I am many things. I am very creative & artistic. I can be accurately described as being both a CEO & a Rockstar all at the same time, both of those perfectly existing in one person, Me. I am a very unique man. There is NOTHING typical, average, normal, or ordinary about me whatsoever!
What a catch, amirite girls?

Is the U.S. judicial system broken? An amazing hour of radio discussion with three Minnesota judges discussing mandatory minimums, alternative sentencing, and working with people in the system to actually solve the problem instead of making it worse.

Does TV brainwash its watchers? I'm sure this Salon article is a bit of psychology lite, but it's based on the work of one of my favorite social science researchers, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. A couple of choice quotes:
[Csikszentmihalyi and is research partner] found that almost immediately after turning on the TV, subjects reported feeling more relaxed, and because this occurs so quickly and the tension returns so rapidly after the TV is turned off, people are conditioned to associate TV viewing with a lack of tension. They concluded: Habit-forming drugs work in similar ways. A tranquilizer that leaves the body rapidly is much more likely to cause dependence than one that leaves the body slowly, precisely because the user is more aware that the drug’s effects are wearing off....

The sense of relaxation ends when the set is turned off, but the feelings of passivity and lowered alertness continue. Survey participants commonly reflect that television has somehow absorbed or sucked out their energy, leaving them depleted. They say they have more difficulty concentrating after viewing than before. In contrast, they rarely indicate such difficulty after reading.
As an aside, how do you like this ad background that accompanied the article?

If you've never understood what's wrong with transnational adoption, here's a story for you. It's about European couples adopting American kids. Check out the paragraph where it describes well-off Dutch families parading their kids' heritage by putting on a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. Doesn't it make you feel just a bit odd to see your cultural practice turned into a parody? And how does it feel to know your own country can't take care of its own kids?

Hey, yeah. It may not be a great idea to pay criminal forensics labs based on their conviction rate. "It's difficult to conceive how there could be a greater conflict of interest than paying forensic scientists for convictions. If this is allowed to continue, perhaps we should start giving doctors bonuses for dead patients or judges bonuses for guilty verdicts, the logic would be no different."

They've already figured out how to cut over 30 percent of the greenhouse gases produced in livestock farming and production.

From the Twitter account of Jeffrey Levin:

And finally, a clip from the Melissa Harris Perry show. After a black 10-year-old girl in Connecticut told her parents about a school field trip, which included a reenactment of the Middle Passage, complete with voices calling her racist names, they complained to the school and later ended up in a lawsuit. The discussion on the show includes an explanation of why and how to teach about the experience of slavery from Khalil Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Moving and important watching, especially for white folks, including me.

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