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Guest Post - This is Texas: We do EVERYTHING big!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.22.15

Natilo writes: I know we've talked about kissing bugs & chagas, and more generally about Neglected Tropical Diseases, but I had no idea the problem was this big, nor so seemingly insoluble. The biggest weirdness is the allegation that lots of poor people in the South don't even have proper septic tanks, so sewage just sort of sits in cesspits in their backyards.

Heebie's take: AAAAaaaugh.


 

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ATM: Nerd Camp

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.21.15

SP writes: If I remember correctly we have several alumni of CTY or similar nerd camps ATM. Our oldest, going into 5th grade, will likely be into something like that- at various times he's been into nerd things like Scratch, card/magic tricks, Rubik's cube speed solving, Minecraft (although no RPGs yet.) He's done online courses and other math enrichment so is a couple grades ahead and bored in math at school, can easily pass the admissions test. Any recommendations/thoughts about putting your kid on the official path to nerdom?

Heebie's take: I loved nerd camp. I'm sorry to say I've never met a fellow alum here on unfogged. Catching up with former campers on FB was one of the most intensely disappointing experiences I can remember. I'd built summer camp up into this magical tween-intense place of enchantment, always with the expectation that it was forever vanished, poignantly and tweenly. Then technology re-animated the players, and the corresponding adults were whole and disappointing, except for a few random ones who I'm now very fond of. But SP spawn should totally go to nerd camp, with full awareness that FB technology exists.


 

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Daggone Duggars

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.21.15

So what degree of schadenfreude do you condone re: the Duggars?

Angle lifted wholesale from Helpy-chalk, elsewhere


 

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Manners

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.20.15

This guy prides himself on being polite. His basic point is that politeness provides straightforward rules to be a good person.

But a whole class of problems goes away from my life because I see people as having around them a two or three foot invisible buffer. If there is a stray hair on their jacket I ask them if I can pluck it from them. If they don't want that, they'll do it themselves. If their name is now Susan, it's Susan. Whatever happens inside that buffer is entirely up to them. It has nothing to do with me.

Good policy!


 

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Brits, slavery

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.20.15

From Dairy Queen: Very interesting: British involvement in slavery didn't end with abolition. Why does the securitization link not surprise!


 

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Judge Not

Posted by Ogged
on 08.19.15

Fully 62% of guys who grow up fat, then become both rich and thinner, will try to recreate happier teen years by sleeping with teen girls. SCIENCE.


 

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Human Brains Are Soft

Posted by Ogged
on 08.19.15

Science is hard. Nice look at the hunt for significance in the sciences.


 

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Guest Post - a calorie is a calorie is a calorie

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.19.15

Sifu Tweety writes: At least according to a randomized controlled trial, which showed no benefit for low-carb diets over low-fat diets (slightly the opposite).

But that's just a randomized controlled trial. I'm sure we can do better in comments.

(Related, but I think it has been linked to before.)

Heebie's take: First, apparently the study was funded by Gary Taubes' foundation. I think he deserved credit for making his name on the carbohydrate hypothesis, funding a very well-designed study and not flinching when the results don't pan out like he'd bet they would.

A very clear blog post about the study:

Now, let's talk about what this study is, and what it isn't:
  • It is an investigation of the mechanisms of short-term weight loss, specifically the mechanistic importance of calories vs. diet composition.
  • It is a well-designed test of the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis of obesity.
  • It isn't a test of which diet works best under real-world conditions, or how different diets affect hunger, food motivation, or food intake.

Some criticisms of the results, addressed.


 

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Heat

Posted by Ogged
on 08.18.15

Do these projections make sense to you? They seem to be worst case (see here) but even so, take a look, eg, at Charleston, SC (assuming you can accurately click on any of that), which will have an average of zero "danger days" (heat index of at least 105) from 2010-2019, but 82 from 2025-2034. Maybe some places are already on the cusp for many days out of the year, and even a few degree increase will meet the definition of "danger days?" But Asheville, NC, to take another example, is a relatively cool Southern city, and these projections have it spending nearly a third of each year around the 105 heat index. Really?


 

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Systems

Posted by Ogged
on 08.18.15

This is pretty interesting. Some Black Lives Matter activists confronted H.Clinton, and in the course of the conversation, she lays out something of her political philosophy.

Look, I don't believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You're not gonna change every heart. You're not. But at the end of the day we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them to live up to their own God-given potential ... You can keep the movement going, which you have started, and through it you may actually change some hearts. But if that's all that happens, we'll be back here in ten years having the same conversation.

Video at the link.


 

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Further Oathkeeper developments

Posted by Ben
on 08.18.15

Andrews explained that he and members of his group spent almost an entire night speaking with black protestors about the events in Ferguson and the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

"Every person we talked to said if they carried they'd be shot by police. That's the reason we're going to hold this event and it will be a legal demonstration," Andrews said. "I'm sick and tired of law enforcement who doesn't think they have to abide by the law. They're narcissistic and that guy (Belmar) discredited my men."

I admit, this is not what I would have predicted.


 

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Sharp Focus!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.18.15

Speech.

When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.

While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the civilization I'm talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Suleiman the Magnificent.

That was Carly Fiorina after 9/11. Now she must pay for her apostasy!

A 14-year-old speech given by GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina is now under sharp focus by her fellow conservatives and an outraged chorus on social media, claiming -- in accusatory fashion that the former Hewlett-Packard CEO was "praising Muslims" in her September 2001 remarks.


 

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Loans

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.18.15

Facebook filed a multipurpose patent:

Here's the last use case Facebook describes in the patent:
In a fourth embodiment of the invention, the service provider is a lender. When an individual applies for a loan, the lender examines the credit ratings of members of the individual's social network who are connected to the individual through authorized nodes. If the average credit rating of these members is at least a minimum credit score, the lender continues to process the loan application. Otherwise, the loan application is rejected.

This can't be legal, I assume, but it's the kind of back-end discrimination that all this data tracking lends itself to, and is difficult to police - price variation according to what your demographics predict you'd be willing to pay, how much of a fix you're in, and so on.


 

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The Conservative Masses

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.17.15

Woodward country, Oklahoma:

Thirty percent of the 21,000 people in Woodward County are estimated (using a statistical model based in national surveys) to believe that climate change isn't happening at all, according to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. The county ties with six others for the highest rate of climate skepticism in the country.

The author goes to visit with the people of Woodward and writes a very charitable profile of the community, while cutting them zero slack for their preposterous beliefs. I thought he struck a very good balance.

Similarly, this woman writes about how conflicted she is about stem cell research being used in the course of medical research on Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which two of her sons have. I think it's fascinating to hear wildly conservative people speak in good faith about their beliefs. (I have zero appetite to hear anything belligerent or adversarial, but when it's a quiet, thoughtful loon explaining their thought process, I find it interesting.)

What would I do if a cure was found by using fetal stem cell lines? I don't know honestly. I don't think I could deny my boys a cure but I think I'd be forever haunted by the children who died in the name of research. I would worry about my eternal soul.

I mean, what? But she's very serious.


 

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New Parents

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.17.15

Over the summer, two different people in my life became new parents. One set of parents is doing pretty well, a little dazed but has 4.5 adults available for the care of the newborn. The other set is really not doing well - severe post-partum depression, far from family, and so on.

I'm reminded, first, of what a huge adjustment it really is, even when it goes well. (Not unpredictable! I think it's entirely possible to have your eyes wide open going in. But still an adjustment.)

Second, it occurs to me (not for the first time) that when people offer congratulations for a pregnancy or upcoming adoption, that it (sometimes) masks real trepidation or unease.


 

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Saving Lives

Posted by Ogged
on 08.16.15

Jesus.

Ideally, one adviser said, a person in Kenya could put on a pair of virtual reality goggles and be transported to Mr. Obama's 2008 speech on race in Philadelphia.

Shouldn't a globally popular politician who might have a billion dollars to spend maybe think for a minute about the ways in which technology threatens things we hold dear (like privacy, sleep, and time) instead of thinking "neato?"

Some of his plan is fine, if predictable, but no mention of climate change. What else would you, if you were in the position of thought leaders like Eva Longoria and Malcolm Gladwell, encourage Obama to do post-presidency? I'd vote for dismantling global capitalism, but failing that, how about showing real "vision" and advocating for a global treaty on workers' rights?


 

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