Blue Monday ReadsPosted: February 25, 2013 | |
I waded through a few of the Sunday New Shows yesterday just to see what kinds of outrageous lies my governor would tell the nation in his search for the next big job opening. Basically, watching any panel of Pressketeers is a depressing exercise in repetitive memes with the same-old same-olds. None of them are ever brighter than about a 20 watt bulb. Alex Parene’ sums up my sentiments precisely.
Finally, the “Meet the Press” panel. Each panel this morning was somehow worse than the one before. This one was Wall Street Journal scribbler Peggy “Lady Peggington Noonington” Noonan, Harold “Living Embodiment of Everything Wrong With American Politics” Ford Jr., NPR’s Steve “Objective Journalist Who is Implicitly Here to Represent the ‘Liberal’ Side Even Though He is Not a Liberal” Inskeep, and two representatives from NBC’s right-wing finance “news” station CNBC, Maria Bartiromo and Jim “Wrong About Everything and Sort of Crazy But Actually Not That Bad on Politics In Terms of CNBC Figures” Kramer.
Everyone said precisely what you’d expect them to say. Noonan was very sorrowful about how the president is going around making Americans feel scared by saying scary things about how the sequester will be bad for the economy. “I just have a bad feeling about going out and trying to scare the American people right in the middle of the Great Recession when everybody is nervous enough.” Ford and Noonan both agree that people in Washington need to “think big” and also leaders should show leadership. Pegs obviously blames the president for being mean to Republicans and being scary, but Ford had the much more controversial perspective that in the current situation, both sides are to blame for bad stuff. “No one, Democrat or Republican, can be pleased with how their party is performing,” he said, which is a very self-evidently untrue statement, because obviously lots of people can and do think their party has the right idea. But those people are “extreme partisans” and thus they do not count.
Inskeep basically said Republicans are willing to cut a revenue deal but are scared of it being called a tax hike. Bartiromo said the sequester won’t be so bad because “the markets” aren’t complaining. A few minutes went by and then Cramer said the stock market is doing well because “the markets” don’t believe the sequester will happen. That’s TV financial news in a nutshell, basically: Two completely opposite premises based on unknowable interpretations of the intentions of “the markets” stated with absolute certainty.
They closed, again, with Oscar talk. These people talking about who will win Oscars is absolutely perfect, because none of them have any clue — they don’t have any special insight into or expertise in the movie industry, or even film in general, they are just people who are on TV — but they were all very happy to explain what they thought would happen and why.
It’s hard to believe that people get paid so well to be that mundane and worthless. Better we should be paid to watch it. Oh, it get’s worse. Juan Williams is still complaining about getting fired for making bigoted statements about Muslims. Hasn’t this dude figured out that this is bigotry and not just a dissident voice?
Fox News political analyst and “Special Report” panelist Juan Williams said in an interview with The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas that mainstream media outlets “stab” and “kill” dissenting voices.
Williams was fired from National Public Radio in 2010 after saying he sometimes gets “nervous” when seated on an airplane with Muslims, while making a broader point about the importance of religious tolerance.
“I always thought it was the Archie Bunkers of the world, the right-wingers of world, who were more resistant and more closed-minded about hearing the other side,” he said. “In fact, what I have learned is, in a very painful way — and I can open this shirt and show you the scars and the knife wounds — is that it is big media institutions who are identifiably more liberal to left-leaning who will shut you down, stab you and kill you, fire you, if they perceive that you are not telling the story in the way that they want it told.”
I’m sure Juan would’ve been very understanding of some lily white person talking about how they get “nervous” when walking near black men, yes? The link goes to The Daily Caller and the host is the revolting Ginni Thomas. Go there at risk to your own stomach contents. I’m reminded again why I stick to the foreign press as a rule. What a set of morons!
So, it’s an easy jump from the wife of Justice Long Dong Silver to the subject of pedophiles. As BB can attest, there’s always been a huge debate in the study of human behavior and the role of nature v. nurture. The study of men and pedophila is in the middle of that debate. There will be a new pope. Let’s hope this one had no role in enabling the churches’ baby rapers. Let’s also hope we can figure out ways to squash this horrible behavior no matter what the root.
And now new research suggests that some people are born with brains ‘wired’ for sexual attraction to children—or pedophilia—a propensity that’s further shaped by life experiences and often cannot be controlled.“Whatever the chain of events is, the chain begins before birth,” said James M. Cantor, a University of Toronto professor of psychiatry whose research team has made a series of startling correlations finding that pedophiles are likely to share physical attributes, such as slightly lower IQs, shorter body height, left-handedness and less brain tissue.
“There is no way to explain the findings that we get for pedophelia without mentioning or without including biology,” he recently told Canada’s Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. “It is inescapable at this point. We cannot rule out psycho-social influences, but we cannot have a complete theory that cannot explain these non-obvious but but exquisitely important biological findings.”
Cantor’s findings have become big news not just because pedophilia is seen as one of the worst crimes—and its scandals and cover-ups don’t seem to end, whether in the Roman Catholic church or football-protecting universities. The idea that moral—and immoral—behavior has a basis in biology is the latest twist in the age-old debate of whether nature or nurture drives human action. For much of the 20 th century, psychologists looked more to the nurture side of the equation. But 21 st century science, with brain-scan imaging and computing power to analyze big data, are suggesting that both factors—one’s genes and one’s upbringing—shape human sexuality.
I’ll let BB check out the methodology and see what she thinks.
Ever heard of a Social Impact Bond? It’s a new debt instrument used to raise money for social services. It’s being tested in the UK and US. The Economist follows a homeless advocate in London whose work is being funded in part via of this new type of investment.
The homelessness SIB is one of 14 that have now been issued or are in development in Britain, which pioneered the instrument back in 2010 with a bond funding a prisoner-rehabilitation programme in Peterborough. The idea is also winning fans elsewhere. New York city launched a SIB last year tackling recidivism among inmates at Rikers Island prison; Goldman Sachs is among the investors. Work is under way on three more American SIBs, one in New York state and two in Massachusetts. Jeffrey Liebman, a Harvard University professor who is providing technical assistance on all three, has just invited applications from other state and local governments to receive help setting up SIBs: 28 applied.
And there is rising emerging-market interest in SIBs, where they go under the name of “development-impact bonds”. According to Michael Belinsky of Instiglio, a start-up devoted to designing SIBs in poor countries, there is less scope for government savings to pay back investors in emerging markets because social safety nets are thinner. So international-development agencies are more likely to act as sponsors. Mr Belinsky is working on potential SIBs in India, to improve educational outcomes for girls in Rajasthan, and in Colombia, to reduce teenage-pregnancy and school drop-out rates.
As the buzz about SIBs increases, the questions will also become more searching. Projects which take many years to have an effect (the impact of pre-school education on university admissions, say) will not interest investors. Good data are crucial for measuring outcomes: that can be a problem in developing countries.
The hardest questions concern the returns that investors will demand if SIBs are to attract serious amounts of money. The Peterborough SIB dangles an annualised return of up to 13% if reoffending rates go down by enough; but investors lose everything if recidivism does not fall by at least 7.5%. That sort of equity risk is not going to appeal to many, acknowledges Nick Hurd, the British government minister for civil society. “SIBs need to evolve so that they become more like a debt instrument.”
So, it seems only fitting that after banks make so many folks homeless through innovative financing that they now can now actually invest in homelessness. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there some where but I’m just not prepared to delineate it right now.
Okay, so let me close with my thing about what we can learn from grave sites. Today’s lesson is that our teeth aren’t so great in comparison to our ancient ancestors.
Prehistoric humans didn’t have toothbrushes. They didn’t have floss or toothpaste, and they certainly didn’t have Listerine. Yet somehow, their mouths were a lot healthier than ours are today.
“Hunter-gatherers had really good teeth,” says Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. “[But] as soon as you get to farming populations, you see this massive change. Huge amounts of gum disease. And cavities start cropping up.”
And thousands of years later, we’re still waging, and often losing, our war against oral disease.
Our changing diets are largely to blame.
In a study published in the latest Nature Genetics, Cooper and his research team looked at calcified plaque on ancient teeth from 34 prehistoric human skeletons. What they found was that as our diets changed over time — shifting from meat, vegetables and nuts to carbohydrates and sugar — so too did the composition of bacteria in our mouths.
Not all oral bacteria are bad. In fact, many of these microbes help us by protecting against more dangerous pathogens.
However, the researchers found that as prehistoric humans transitioned from hunting and gathering to farming, certain types of disease-causing bacteria that were particularly efficient at using carbohydrates started to win out over other types of “friendly” bacteria in human mouths. The addition of processed flour and sugar during the Industrial Revolution only made matters worse.
“What you’ve really created is an ecosystem which is very low in diversity and full of opportunistic pathogens that have jumped in to utilize the resources which are now free,” Cooper says.
And that’s a problem, because the dominance of harmful bacteria means that our mouths are basically in a constant state of disease.
Let me think about that last one. “Our mouths are basically in a constant state of disease.” Well, maybe that explains the Sunday Talk Shows and Gini Thomas. I think it’s a deserving hypothesis, don’t you?
So, after a weekend of gray skies, storms spitting hail at my windows, and being shut in doors most of Saturday by a NOPD man hunt complete with SWAT teams and noisy swooping helicopters, I’m hoping Monday ends a little better than it’s starting. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?