Author Archive for

28
Jul
14

Roundup – HOSPITAL!

Best of the Best:

The World’s Ball [The New York Times]

The 1970 World Cup was broadcast by satellite in both Europe and the Americas, and the Telstar Durlast was designed to be television friendly. The enduring black-and-white pattern was said to improve visibility on black-and-white sets.

Have Brazilians Lost Their Love of Soccer? [Brendan Greeley on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Wesley is a family friend, taking care of me while I’m in São Paulo for a two-day layover before heading north to Fortaleza to watch some soccer. In Paulinia, where he lives, I ask where the Brazilian flags are. He points down his street and says that in any other World Cup year, you’d see flags on every house. You see them this year, but isolated: two or three per apartment tower. This doesn’t mean that Brazilians don’t care about the cup. It does mean that the way they care about the cup is complicated…In the car, he tells me that Paulinia has an American football team—pigskin and helmets and pads, that kind of football—and says that pigskin football is Brazil’s fastest-growing sport. I ask why, and he explains that the soccer leagues in Brazil are frustratingly corrupt. He’s fed up with corruption in general.

West African Ebola epidemic “out of control”: aid group [Reuters]

An Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is out of control and requires massive resources from governments and aid agencies to prevent it from spreading further, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières said on Monday. The death toll has hit 337 since February, the U.N. World Health Organisation said last week, making it the deadliest outbreak since Ebola first emerged in 1976.

L. Rock Hubbard [Nathan Rabin on Slate]

But even people morbidly obsessed with Hubbard might not realize that before John Travolta donned platform boots to cackle maniacally at the foolishness of puny man-animals in the film version of Battlefield Earth, the book had been adapted into an album written by Hubbard called Space Jazz. Space Jazz wasn’t the only album masterminded by Hubbard in the final years of his life, as the eccentric guru boogied his way toward death. Collectively, these albums offer a fascinating glimpse into both Hubbard’s psyche and rampant egomania.

Paper or Power: Nothing Cut and Dried About Hand Washing in Restrooms [Timothy W. Martin on The Wall Street Journal]

People prefer paper towels by a 4-to-1 margin over hand dryers, according to a 2009 study by industry trade publication Facility Cleaning Decisions. Paper towels, a $2.5 billion industry, still exist by themselves in 85% of the nation’s 30 million, nonresidential bathrooms…Research findings on the most effective way to dry hands is so far a bit wishy-washy. A Mayo Clinic publication, with a study done by a trio of researchers including a former Kimberly-Clark consultant, weighed in on the debate in 2012, declaring that “paper towels are superior” from a hygiene standpoint, because dryers weren’t as effective at wiping bacteria off the hands. But this year, University at Buffalo researchers, using blow torches and cotton swabs to collect bacteria samples, declared high-speed hand dryers more hygienic. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take no position.

Ohio’s Measles Outbreak Prompts Amish to Get Vaccinated [Sarah Jane Tribble on Kaiser Health News via Governing Magazine]

The largest outbreak of measles in recent U.S. history is underway. Ohio has the majority of these cases – 341 confirmed and eight hospitalizations. The virus has spread quickly among the largely unvaccinated Amish communities in the center of the state.

The demographics and politics of gun-owning households [Rich Morin on FactTank on Pew Research Center]

The new research also suggests a paradox: While blacks are significantly more likely than whites to be gun homicide victims, blacks are only about half as likely as whites to have a firearm in their home (41% vs. 19%). Hispanics are less likely than blacks to be gun homicide victims and half as likely as whites to have a gun at home (20%).

Demographics: Prime and Near-Prime Population and Labor Force [Bill McBride on Calculated Risk]

The prime working age labor force grew even quicker than the population in the ’70s and ’80s due the increase in participation of women. In fact, the prime working age labor force was increasing 3%+ per year in the ’80s! So when compare economic growth to the ’70s, ’80, or 90’s we have to remember this difference in demographics (the ’60s saw solid economic growth as near-prime age groups increased)…As Bruegel notes, the working age population in the US is expected to grow over the next few decades – so the US has much better demographics than Europe, China or Japan (not included). The key points are: 1) A slowdown in the US was expected this decade just based on demographics (the housing bust, financial crisis were piled on top of weak demographics). 2) The prime working age population in the US will start growing again soon.

Four myths about the Great War of 1914-1918 [Mark Harrison, Professor of Economics, University of Warwick via VOX.EU]

It is true that Germany imported 20‐25% of calories for human consumption before the war. Wartime imports were limited by an Allied blockade at sea and (via pressure on neutrals) on land. At the same time, German civilians suffered greatly: hunger-related mortality is estimated at around 750,000 (Davis and Engerman 2006: 204). But decisions made in Berlin, not London, did the main damage to German food supplies. The decision to attack Germany’s main food suppliers struck the first blow. In 1913, the German economy was more interlinked with future adversaries than allies. Britain, France, Italy, and Russia accounted for 36% of pre-war German trade. Britain alone provided more German trade than the 12% share of Austria‐Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire combined (Gartzke and Lupu 2012, Kramer 2013). Gerd Hardach (1987) conjectured that the effects of the loss of trade were outweighed by Germany’s war mobilisation. Mobilisation policies damaged food production in several ways (described by Feldman 1966). On the side of resources, mobilisation diverted young men, horses, and chemical fertilisers from agricultural use to the front line. Farmers’ incentives to sell food were weakened when German industry was converted to war production and ceased to supply the countryside with manufactures. Government initiatives to hold down food prices for the consumer did further damage. Because trade supplied at most one quarter of German calories, and German farmers the other three quarters, it is implausible to see the loss of trade as the primary factor. Germany’s own war effort probably did more to undermine food supplies.

How ‘Crazy Negroes’ With Guns Helped Kill Jim Crow [Thaddeus Russell on Reason Magazine] – RW

Although the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were formally committed to nonviolence, when their volunteers showed up in Canton they happily received protection from Chinn and the militia of armed black men he managed. “Every white man in that town knew you didn’t fuck with C.O. Chinn,” remembered a CORE activist. “He’d kick your natural ass.” Consequently, Chinn’s Club Desire offered a safe haven for black performers such as B.B. King, James Brown, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, and the Platters; illegal liquor flowed freely in the county; and, unlike their comrades in much of Mississippi, CORE and SNCC activists in Canton were able to register thousands of black voters with virtual impunity from segregationist violence. According to Charles E. Cobb’s revelatory new history of armed self-defense and the civil rights movement, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed, Canton and the rest of the South could not have been desegregated without people like C.O. Chinn, who were willing to take the lives of white people and were thus known as “crazy Negroes” or, less delicately, “bad niggers.”

The Price of Prevention: Vaccine Costs Are Soaring [Elisabeth Rosenthal on The New York Times]

The earliest vaccines were not patented, in part because the law at the time held that natural products could not be so protected. And vaccines like polio were developed through a large infusion of government and foundation funds, not by a company. Even when commercialized by the 1960s, vaccines were made by small specialty manufacturers, instead of big pharmaceutical firms, since producing them involved particular challenges: using live organisms, some of them dangerous. Indeed, huge liability payouts and aggressive mergers had, by the 1990s, meant that more than half of the country’s vaccine makers had closed down. With low retail prices, no one regarded vaccine making as a lucrative business. When he started his pediatric practice in 1982 in San Antonio, Dr. Michael Ozer remembers, he charged $22 for a 2-month well-child checkup, with $8 added on for the polio vaccine and another $8 for the vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. “And I’m sure we were making money on it,” he said. But one by one, various barriers eroded: Drug manufacturers discovered new ways to protect their products, like patenting the manufacturing process. The number of vaccine patent applications rose tenfold in the 1990s to more than 10,000. In 1988, the federal government set up the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, effectively shielding manufacturers and doctors.

Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds [Tamar Levin on The New York Times]

At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.

Soccer Concussions Are More Frequent Than You Think [Eric Chemi on Bloomberg Businessweek]

According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, more high school soccer players had concussions in 2010 than basketball, baseball, wrestling, and softball players combined. In the CIRP’s report (PDF) for the 2011-12 school year, concussions represented 34 percent of all injuries in boys’ soccer competitions and 30 percent in girls’ soccer. American football, of course, tops the list as the high school sport with the most concussions—but girls’ soccer ranks second. Soccer has seen a 58 percent increase in the number of children suffering concussions over the past decade. Some experts believe that banning headers in youth soccer is one way to limit injuries, because the combination of less-mature brains, weaker neck muscles, and poor heading technique contributes to the damage. While contact between head and ball isn’t directly responsible for most concussions, the long-term accumulation of those small impacts over time could cause problems with the brain, affecting thinking, concentration, and memory. The biggest danger of concussions comes from the act of going up in the air—head first—which leads to such risky situations as hitting another player’s knee.

The Misguided Freakout About Basement-Dwelling Millennials [Derek Thompson on The Atlantic]

[T]he share of 18-to-24-year-olds living at home who aren’t in college has declined since 1986. But the share of college students living “at home” (i.e.: in dorms, often) has increased. So the Millennials-living-in-our-parents meme is almost entirely a result of higher college attendance.  That’s crucial to know, because the share of 25- to 29-year-olds with a bachelor degree has grown by almost 50 percent since the early 1980s. More than 84 percent of today’s 27-year-olds spend at least some time in college and now 40 percent have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. More young people going to school means more young people living in dorms, which means more young people “living with their parents,” according to the weird Census.  Almost half of young people “living with their parents” are in college, where all campus housing counts as “living with their parents.”

Legal experts dissect the US government’s secret drone memo: a round-up [Alice K. Ross on The Bureau of Investigative Journalism]

On Monday, a US court ordered the publication of a secret memo outlining the government’s legal justification for killing an American citizen, Anwar al Awlaki…A CIA drone strike killed Anwar al Awlaki, along with three others, on September 30 2011. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, died in a separate drone strike two weeks later. The US government has said Abdulrahman was not the target of the strike that killed him – so no such document exists for him.

How Gowex CEO Went From Defiant to Disgraced in Five Days [Rodrigo Orihuela and Manuel Baigorri on Bloomberg]

It was 10:37 a.m. on July 1. Jenaro Garcia was preparing for a meeting with Madrid’s mayor aimed at fostering Spain’s entrepreneurial spirit when a message popped up on his phone. A short seller in New York had just released a report saying that Let’s Gowex SA (GOW), the company Garcia founded 15 years ago to offer Internet access via Wi-Fi hotspots, had overstated its revenue almost 10-fold in recent years. Garcia denied the accusations and threatened legal action against the report’s author, Gotham City Research LLC. Gowex employees and its auditor made Batman jokes about Gotham, named after the Caped Crusader’s fictitious burg. And Garcia continued his usual routine, posting on Twitter, “Gooooood morning Madrid!!!! Perfect day for a jog.” Then he said the report was on target. On July 6, Gowex announced that Garcia had been stripped of his powers. The previous day, the board said, Garcia told directors that he took responsibility for falsified financial accounts for at least four years. Gowex would file for creditor protection, putting an end to what had been seen as a rare success story of Spanish entrepreneurship.

Born in 1988? Sorry. [Peter R. Orszag via Bloomberg View]

Many studies have documented the income effect. A typical estimate, from a 2010 study, is that every percentage point increase in the unemployment rate during the year a person enters the workforce reduces his or her wages by 6 percent to 7 percent on average. And the reduction persists, though it diminishes somewhat over time. Even 15 years on, a person’s wages are 2.5 percent lower for every percentage point increase in the unemployment rate that happened when he or she graduated from college. This can make for big differences among members of the same generation who are born just a few years apart. Compare a person born in 1988, who graduated in 2010, when the unemployment rate averaged 9.6 percent with someone born in 1984 who graduated from college in 2006, when the unemployment rate averaged 4.6 percent. The person unlucky enough to be born in 1988 had a 30 percent to 35 percent lower wage at graduation. And at their respective 15 year reunions, the 2010 graduate is expected to be earning 12.5 percent less than the 2006 graduate.

These Doctors Are Bowing to a Boy for Doing Something That Could Save Millions of Lives [Matt Connolly on NewsMic] – RW

The boy on the gurney in that powerful photo is 11-year-old Liang Yaoyi, and according to a QQ news story translated by chinaSMACK, he decided to donate his kidneys and liver after suffering from an eventually fatal brain tumor. The operation was performed in June, and doctors bowed to Yaoyi and his mother three times in recognition of his sacrifice.

What Does Your “Relfie” Say About Your Relationship? [Dr.Benjamin Le on The Science of Relationships]

The take home message is that others will assume you are in a good relationship if you post relfies, change your status to “in a relationship with…”, and talk about your relationship on Facebook. In addition, people viewing your profile are pretty accurate in their ratings of your relationship. If you are in a strong relationship, viewers can pick that up from your Facebook profile. However, there is some danger in getting too schmoopie about your relationship on Facebook; although your friends will think your relationship is going well, they will like you less.

Tales From the Friend Zone: REALLY Just Friends? [Dr. Gary Lewandowski on The Science of Relationships]

This demonstrates an important point: being attracted to someone does not mean that the two people will ever hook-up or develop a relationship. Surely, the guys in the study who admit to being attracted to their female friends may simultaneously be more attracted to their current relationship partners as well (“my friend is hot, but my girlfriend is hotter”). Similarly, guys may never pursue a romantic relationship with a female friend either because they know they have no realistic chance, because their female friend already has a relationship, or because she just simply does not see romantic potential with him (i.e., you are staying “just friends”).

Opting Out of Parenthood: How Couples Navigate the Decision to Not Have Children [Dr. Gary Lewandowski on The Science of Relationships]

A couple’s decision to remain childless is clearly one that spouses do not take lightly. Rather, the decision is a deliberative process that unfolds over time. Though many couples quickly reach the decision through mutual agreement to not have children, for other couples the decision is much more complicated and necessitates reconciliation by one partner. Perhaps most importantly, outsiders should view couples who remain voluntarily childless as a partnership that has a strong conviction about remaining childless, largely due to how the partners deeply value their relationship.

Why An African-American Sports Pioneer Remains Obscure [Alan Greenblatt on code switch on NPR] – RW

Alice Coachman Davis never entered the pantheon of breakthrough African-American sports heroes, like Jesse Owens or Wilma Rudolph. But she was a pioneer nonetheless. In 1948, competing as Alice Coachman, she became the first African-American woman to win Olympic gold, breaking the U.S. and Olympic records in the high jump.

I Don’t Want to Be Right [Maria Konnikova on The New Yorker]

Not all false information goes on to become a false belief—that is, a more lasting state of incorrect knowledge—and not all false beliefs are difficult to correct. Take astronomy. If someone asked you to explain the relationship between the Earth and the sun, you might say something wrong: perhaps that the sun rotates around the Earth, rising in the east and setting in the west. A friend who understands astronomy may correct you. It’s no big deal; you simply change your belief. But imagine living in the time of Galileo, when understandings of the Earth-sun relationship were completely different, and when that view was tied closely to ideas of the nature of the world, the self, and religion. What would happen if Galileo tried to correct your belief? The process isn’t nearly as simple. The crucial difference between then and now, of course, is the importance of the misperception. When there’s no immediate threat to our understanding of the world, we change our beliefs. It’s when that change contradicts something we’ve long held as important that problems occur.

This Isn’t a Brain Freeze—Manitoba Wins ‘Slurpee Capital’ Once Again [Julie Steinberg on The Wall Street Journal]

The Manitoba market comprises 52 7-Elevens in all, 43 of them in Winnipeg proper. Manitoba’s locations averaged 8,300 Slurpee sales a month in 2009, according to the most recent figures provided by 7-Eleven, which is a privately held unit of a public company, Tokyo-based Seven & i Holdings Co. The company hasn’t released specific Slurpee sales figures since then. It says other big Slurpee markets include Detroit, Seattle, Portland and Salt Lake City…To some Manitobans, nothing beats a nippy winter night like a Slurpee with a nip of alcohol. Mr. Cassidy said some of his buddies “boost” their Slurpees, adding vodka to a Sprite Slurpee or rum to a Coke one. Manitoba’s reign as world Slurpee champion hasn’t gone unchallenged over the years. In 2008, Don Mariotto, the franchisee of a 7-Eleven in Kennewick, Wash., advertised on TV and on radio stations that his store was No. 1 for Slurpee sales in the world between July 2007 and June 2008. He said his slogan was: ‘Move Over, Manitoba, Kennewick is King.; The proclamation received a frosty reception in Winnipeg, where television and radio personalities reported the claim. Manitobans rallied and ultimately prevailed, winning the title that year and each year since. Mr. Mariotto alleges the rules were changed to count the number of cups of Slurpees sold and not the volume, putting his store at a disadvantage. A spokesperson for 7-Eleven said the company stands by the Manitoba victory. Years later, Winnipeg Slurpee aficionados still burst with civic pride over that win. Photographer Kineret Rifkind, who loaded up on Slurpees in 2008 to help defend the crown, now drinks hers out of a one-liter thermos emblazoned with the words “Manitoba Slurpee Capital of the World.”

Despite Exposure of Madoff Fraud, New Ponzi Schemes Emerge [Elizabeth Olson on New York Times Dealbook]

Over the last five years, Mr. Maglich said, he has followed about 500 Ponzi schemes on his site, which includes links to legal documents, including those filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which posts some of them on its website; the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; and state financial authorities. Such swindles are largely viewed as distasteful cousins in the high-rolling world of securities, but they still rake in amounts that could be envied on Wall Street. In May alone, at least nine newly discovered Ponzi schemes were claimed to involve more than $96 million, said Kathy Bazoian Phelps, a Los Angeles lawyer who keeps a running tally on her blog.

Chinese Hackers Show Humans Are Weakest Security Link [Jordan Robertson on Bloomberg]

Spearphishing, a more targeted version of mass-e-mail phishing attacks, has long been known as a glaring vulnerability. In 2011, RSA Security, a unit of EMC, was hacked that way, exposing a hiring campaign. A Coca-Cola Co. executive opened a spearphishing message in 2012, leading hackers to gain access to internal documents. At Alcoa, about 19 employees received an e-mail purporting to be from a board member, Carlos Ghosn, who is also chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Co. An attachment to the message, once opened, unleashed a virus that penetrated Alcoa’s network. While Ghosn wasn’t directly identified in yesterday’s indictment, the document refers to a director with the initials “C.G.” Ghosn was the only board member at the time matching that criteria. Chris Keeffe, a spokesman for Nissan, and Monica Orbe, a spokeswoman for Alcoa, declined to comment. Some of the main targets are personal assistants, who play a central role inside companies and are targeted because they often have access to executives’ calendars, contact lists and e-mail accounts, according to Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Corp.’s Security Response team. The other type of workers targeted most often are public-relations professionals, whose names and e-mail addresses are easy to harvest from public Web pages. They’re also accustomed to hearing from people they don’t already know, Haley said.

Wealthy Somalis Flout Kenyan Law Banning Female Circumcision [Abjata Khalif on Bloomberg]

Halima Abdi charges foreign visitors at least $1,000 for a tour of remote northeastern Kenyan villages that most people wouldn’t dream of making. Her clients are young girls sent by their parents to undergo traditional circumcision. Most of her customers are ethnic Somalis who arrive from countries such as the U.K., Sweden and the Netherlands, Abdi explained in an interview at her cramped one-room office in the suburb of Eastleigh in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Abdi says she’s offered ‘consultancy services’ to hundreds of migrant families from abroad since she began operating in 2000. ‘I have undergone the female cut and I have administered the same to my daughters and their granddaughters too will go through it,’ said Abdi, a 48-year-old mother of five children. ‘These beliefs and values are still present and valued by Somalis in Africa and the developed world.’ While female genital mutilation has been illegal in Kenya since 2011, practitioners like Abdi continue to earn a handsome living from the procedure. The Wagalla Centre for Peace and Human Rights, a Wajir, Kenya-based advocacy group, says the practice has made some circumcisers rich enough to buy four-wheel-drive vehicles, build luxury homes in remote villages and acquire livestock.

Cynk Short Squeeze Blamed by Trader for Costing Him Job [Zeke Faux and Jing Cao on Bloomberg]

A Wall Street trader said Cynk Technology Corp.’s (CYNK) 36,000 percent stock surge cost him his job, and he blames a short squeeze and regulators who didn’t halt the shares before the company’s value shot past $6 billion. Tom Laresca, a market-maker at Buckman Buckman & Reid Inc., said he was among traders who thought they spotted a scam as the shares jumped to $2.25 last month from pennies. He sold it short last week around $6 — which means selling stock you don’t own with a plan to buy it cheaper soon, pocketing the difference. Laresca figured the Securities and Exchange Commission would suspend trading, sending the price toward zero. Cynk has said it’s a social-network service with no revenue and one employee…Instead of falling, the price more than doubled the next day, July 9, starting the squeeze. Market-makers who had sold the shares short got nervous and scrambled to buy them to close their positions, driving the price even higher, Laresca said. The SEC stopped trading two days later, citing concerns about the accuracy of information in the marketplace and “potentially manipulative transactions.” That was too late, Laresca said.

Craft Beer Industry Taps Profits of “Big Beer” [Elaine S. Povich on Stateline]

According to Beer Marketer’s Insights, a trade industry publication, the craft beer industry produces 16 million barrels annually, approximately 7.8 percent of the total beer volume in the U.S. Back in 2008, the crafters produced only 8.9 million barrels for a 4.2 percent share. The craft beer industry is growing 13 percent to 14 percent each year, with a commensurate drop in production by the “big guys” like Anheuser-Busch and Coors, from 177.6 million barrels in 2008 down to 162.7 million in 2013, said Beer Marketer’s vice president Eric Shepard.

The Economics of Fake Degrees [Scott McLemee on Slate]

Last year a dog received his MBA from the American University of London, a non-accredited distance-learning institution. It feels as if I should add ‘not to be confused with the American University in London,’ but getting people to confuse them seems like a pretty basic feature of the whole AUOL marketing strategy. The dog, identified as ‘Peter Smith’ on his diploma, goes by Pete. He was granted his degree on the basis of ‘previous experiential learning,’ along with payment of 4,500 pounds ($7,723). The funds were provided by a BBC news program, which also helped Pete fill out the paperwork. The American University of London required that Pete submit evidence of his qualifications as well as a photograph. The applicant submitted neither, as the BBC website explains, ‘since the qualifications did not exist and the applicant was a dog.’

How Gamblers Get Hot [Jay Caspian Kang on The New Yorker]

Juemin Xu and Nigel Harvey, the study’s authors, took a sampling of 569,915 bets taken on an online sports-gambling site and tracked how previous wins and losses affected the probability of wins in the future. Over all, the winning percentage of the bets was somewhere around forty eight per cent. Xu and Harvey isolated the winners and tracked how they fared in their subsequent bets. In bet two, winners won at a rate of forty-nine per cent. From there, the numbers go haywire. A player who had won two bets in a row won his third bet at a rate of fifty-seven per cent. His fourth bet won sixty-seven percent of the time, his fifth bet seventy-two. The best gamblers in Las Vegas expect to win fifty-five per cent of their bets every year. Seventy-two per cent verges on omniscience. The hot hand, it appears, is real. Losers, unsurprisingly, continued to lose. Of the 190,359 bettors who lost their initial bet, fifty-three per cent lost their next, and those who had enough money left for a third round lost sixty per cent of the time. When unfortunate bettors got to five straight losses, their chance of winning dropped to twenty-three per cent. The losing streaks should be familiar to problem gamblers and can be explained by another well-worn theory called the gambler’s fallacy. If you’ve ever called heads on a coin flip, seen the coin land tails up, and then called heads again because ‘heads is due,’ you’ve been caught up in the gambler’s fallacy. Winning and losing streaks had no correlation with the skill or risk aversion of the gambler. Xu and Harvey examined the over-all payoffs of gamblers across three currencies and found no significant difference between hot-streakers and cold-streakers. What the research did find was that gamblers on streaks—good or bad—acted under the influence of the gambler’s fallacy. Winning bettors began placing more prudent bets because they assumed their luck would soon run out. Losers began placing bets with longer odds because they wanted to win big when their luck finally, inevitably changed.

Here’s What Obama’s ‘Part-Time America’ Really Looks Like [Derek Thompson on The Atlantic]

Three thoughts for the road: 1) Most people working part-time want to work part-time because they’re in school, or they’re raising kids, or they consider themselves mostly retired. Don’t pay attention to anybody who’s using the number of stay-at-home dads and moms to argue that Obamacare is destroying full-time work. 2) Last fall, the Fed produced a useful document explaining that “current levels of part-time work are largely within historical norms, despite increases for selected demographic groups, such as prime-age workers with a high-school degree or less.” 3) If you insist on being a pessimist, here’s a very smart way to express fear about the future of part-time work, also from the Fed. There are some industries, such as hotels, food service, and retail, that have historically had shorter workweeks and more part-time workers. If those sectors continue to grow faster than the overall economy (because other sectors, like government and manufacturing, are shrinking), then we should expect part-time work to remain elevated. Indeed, the relative strength of those industries today is one reason why part-time work hasn’t declined even faster than it has.

Master’s degrees are as common now as bachelor’s degrees were in the ’60s [Libby Nelson on Vox]

The story of the past four decades isn’t just about how master’s degrees became as common now as bachelor’s degrees were in the 1960s. It’s about how the US has redefined which fields need or reward postgraduate study. In 1970, the 15 most popular master’s degrees — which made up 94 percent of all master’s degrees given that year — split up their market share [with] education…dominant, and many of the other master’s degrees were in traditional academic fields. Over the next four decades, they’d lose ground to professional degrees. And slowly but surely, MBAs would take over the world. By the time the class of 1981 donned their master’s hoods, the degrees that would dominate for the next 30 years had established themselves at the top of the heap. Two categories of professionally oriented degrees, health professions (public health, nursing, and similar fields) and public administration and social services (public policy and social work) were gaining. And computer science has made its first appearance. The top 15 degrees don’t change much in the 1980s and 1990s, even as the number of master’s degrees continued to grow. By the class of 2002…[c]omputer science has jumped up, while theology and history are losing ground. Education, once far more popular than business, is now on more or less the same level. The 2000s see the real rise of professional master’s degrees. In 1971, about 64 percent of master’s recipients were getting either a degree in business or a degree that lined up with a specific job (engineer, nurse, librarian, policy wonk). By 2012, about 80 percent were — and business reigned supreme, passing education in 2010.

How a Copyright Dispute Helped Give America Rock ‘n’ Roll [Alex Mayyasi on Priceonomics]

Lobbying by ASCAP helped secure the passage of the 1909 copyright law — the organization also survived an antitrust case in 1937 — but it did not become really lucrative until radio performances became a significant source of revenue. After ASCAP’s share of radio revenue increased from $750,000 to $4.3 million from 1932 to 1939, it doubled the fees it charged to play its copyrighted works in 1940. Radio stations balked; after all, they had hosted bands to play on the air at no charge just years earlier, since it was seen as good publicity and marketing for the performers. In response, a number of radio broadcasters boycotted ASCAP and formed BMI as an alternative. BMI focused on local music — lots of blues, country, and folk — that ASCAP ignored in its focus on LA, New York City, and music it considered highbrow. (To the extent ASCAP represented black musicians, they played genres like jazz that white audiences had already adopted, according to Garofalo.) Suddenly rhythm and blues music had a national audience that included white listeners, while other local musicians also received a national airing.

The Hippie Hobby Lobby: Eden Foods Says No to Birth Control [Susan Berfield on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Eden Foods calls itself the oldest natural and organic food company in North America. Chances are that if you buy organic food, you’ve bought Eden’s soy milk, beans, or pasta. The company, which started as a food co-op, is owned and run by Michael Potter, a practicing Catholic who similarly doesn’t want to provide birth control to his employees. In fact, Potter’s objections go farther than those that took the Hobby Lobby case all the way to the Supreme Court. The Greens refused to cover four kinds of birth control they consider tantamount to abortion, while Potter objects to paying for any form of birth control. Eden Foods filed a lawsuit last year, seeking exemption on religious grounds, and lost. Following the Supreme Court’s decision on June 30, Eden’s case is being reconsidered.

Librarians Lack LeBron’s Pull as Miami Arena Deal Precedes Cuts [Toluse Olorunnipa on Bloomberg]

Last month, Miami politicians approved a $19 million subsidy for the professional basketball arena. Six weeks later, they turned to a grimmer task: deciding how many police and librarians to fire.

Here’s What Happens When Your Joke Goes Massively Viral On Twitter [Caroline Moss on Business Insider]

The tweet was still being retweeted, hitting close to 16,000 around July Fourth. And when Scott thought it couldn’t get anymore bizarre — being accused of plagiarizing his own joke was surely the strangest thing that could happen — someone pointed out that YouTube celebrity Tyler Oakley was a fan of the joke. But Oakley had posted the screengrab of the tweet to his Facebook and blacked out Scott’s handle. In fact, the only credit Oakley gives is to himself and his Tumblr page. With 1.6 million fans on Facebook, Oakley cheats Scott out of the small fame and glory he would have had from having his name attached to his joke in this particular situation.

Netflix’s 50 Million Subscribers Face a Flood of New Shows [Ashlee Vance on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Netflix has spent more and risked more to become a real competitor to HBO (TWX) and Showtime (CBS) in programming while maintaining a technology edge over everyone. When Netflix first set out on this strategy, it was easy to predict a bleak future in which the company would spend itself to death buying shows that no one watched. Netflix took a huge risk, although hindsight and the rising subscriber numbers are making it harder to remember just how gutsy the move was.

Why The Last Five Years Of Your Life Have Disappeared [Ron Friedman on Fast Company]

Studies show that people who feel “time-rich” tend to be happier and more fulfilled than those of us who constantly feel rushed. They experience fewer headaches and upset stomachs, and regularly get better quality sleep. And it’s not just people who are time-rich and financially successful. Studies show that time affluence is independent of income. Feeling less pressured promotes a happier existence, regardless of how much you earn.

Millennials’ Political Views Don’t Make Any Sense [Derek Thompson on The Atlantic]

Forty-two percent of Millennials think socialism is preferable to capitalism, but only 16 percent of Millennials could accurately define socialism in the survey.

How Advanced Socialbots Have Infiltrated Twitter [MIT Technology Review]

The team also teased apart the data to find out what factors contributed to the success of the bots. Unsurprisingly, activity level is important and the more active bots achieved greater popularity in their social networks. That’s expected since more active bots are more likely to be seen by others (although they are also more likely to be detected by Twitter’s defense mechanisms). More surprisingly, the socialbots that generated synthetic tweets (rather than just reposting) performed better too. That suggests that Twitter users are unable to distinguish between posts generated by humans and by bots. “This is possibly because a large fraction of tweets in Twitter are written in an informal, grammatically incoherent style, so that even simple statistical models can produce tweets with quality similar to those posted by humans in Twitter,” suggest Freitas and co. The groups that the socialbots were set up to follow also had a major effect. The group of socially connected software developers produced the fewest followers while the group of randomly chosen software developers generated the highest number of them.

It’s Very Difficult for Patients to Compare Hospital Prices [Kaiser Health News on Governing Magazine]

Seattle-area hospitals, while insisting that charges are largely meaningless because they’re not what insurers or most patients end up paying, were nevertheless quick to provide explanations when their own charges were high or low. Swedish, pointing to its destination Heart & Vascular Institute, says its average charges, often the highest in the area, reflect the high numbers of complicated cases it handles. Virginia Mason, on the other hand, says its low charges reflect a commitment to eliminating unnecessary tests and procedures, inefficient use of staff and sloppy supply ordering.

Curiously Strong Remains:

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The content on this site is provided as general information and entertainment only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial product, or to participate in any particular trading or investment strategy. The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of firms affiliated with the author. The author may or may not have a position in any security referenced herein and may or may not seek to do business with companies mentioned via this website. Any action that you take as a result of information or analysis on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.

 

05
Jul
14

Roundup – Anthropology Rap

Quote o’ the Week:

f. Coffeenerdness II: Then, just 45 minutes out of Regina, we stopped in Moose Jaw at a Tim Horton’s. Busy morning at the Moose Jaw TimHo’s.

No. Stop. No one, no one calls it that. Why are you like this? Why?

- Adam, “Fun with PK (Canada Edition)” [KSK]

Best of the Best:

The photos North Korea didn’t want you to see  [Jenni Ryall on News AU]

Photographer Eric Lafforgue has ventured into North Korea six times. Using digital memory cards he smuggled out images of the communist nation he was forbidden to take. Mr Lafforgue wanted to show that North Koreans are humans, not robots, who also suffer.

Getting the Sex You Want is Good for Your Relationship [Dr. Benjamin Le on Science of Relationships]

Researchers asked more than 1000 U.S. married couples about their desired and actual sexual frequency. Spouses who weren’t getting as much sex as they desired were less satisfied and thought about ending their marriages more often, had less positive communication with their partners, and reported more conflict. Similarly, the spouses of sexually unfulfilled individuals reported these same negative outcomes (i.e., if you aren’t getting the sex you desire, your partner is less satisfied etc.). While these effects are likely reciprocal, getting the sex you want is associated with better relationship quality for both you and your partner.

Are Millennials Really the “Hook-Up Generation”? [Dr. Gary Lewandowski on Science of Relationships]

Although a common narrative, do the data support the notion that today’s young adults are “hooking up” more than previous generations? In short…no. A sociological study using the General Social Survey comparing hook-up rates among today’s students with students from a decade ago found that both groups reported similar rates of hooking up.3 Specifically, 31.9 % of students from 1988-1996 reported having more than one sexual partner in the past year, whereas 31.6% of today’s college students reported having more than one sexual partner in the past year.

Santa Barbara Massacre Defies Gun Control, Mental Health Proposals: 4 Blunt Points [Paul M. Barrett on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Forget conventional gun-control proposals. These provisions may make sense to deter many kinds of wrongdoing, but they don’t apply to the suicidal young man determined to express his pain and rage by taking innocent people with him. Elliot Rodger, the self-pitying Santa Barbara killer, passed background checks—three times—as he bought his Glock and Sig Sauer pistols. He didn’t need an “assault weapon,” or military-style semiautomatic rifle. Ordinary handguns did just fine. He didn’t need large-capacity ammunition magazines; those are already illegal in California. He planned ahead: three pistols in case one jammed, and more than 40 10-round mags, which provided ample ammo for his deadly mission. California has some of the toughest gun-control laws in the country, far more stringent than what the federal government imposes. Those laws didn’t stop, or even significantly slow, Rodger.

Which Cities Sleep in, and Which Get to Work Early [Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight]

[The 20 most nocturnal metro areas, by the median time of arrival at work] break down into three rough categories. First are those like New York, San Francisco and Boston, which are home to a lot of young, creative professionals. Next are college towns such as Ithaca, N.Y. (Cornell University); Lawrence, Kan. (the University of Kansas); and Logan, Utah (Utah State University). Finally are cities such as Atlantic City, N.J., Orlando, Fla., and Miami, whose economies are associated with recreation, tourism and gambling. A quarter of the workforce in Atlantic City doesn’t begin its workday until 11:26 a.m. or after.

Breaking the Five-Minute ‘Beer Mile’ Brews Controversy [Zusha Elinson on The Wall Street Journal]

Since its origin on college campuses in the late 1980s, the beer mile has grown into an underground phenomenon. Thousands of people, including some professional athletes, have sought to be the fastest in the world at chugging a 12-ounce beer, running one lap, then repeating the uncomfortable, belch-heavy process three more times. Adherents call it the most “glorified” of the “digestive athletics”—a realm that includes competitive eating contests—but it has remained mostly in the shadows. Mr. Nielsen’s record-setting 4:57 run catapulted the obscure sport onto a larger stage with more than one million views of a YouTube video of his feat. The first world championship is now being planned for this year. Mr. Nielsen, a 34-year-old sales executive who ran competitively in college, says he has been approached with endorsement offers from apparel and beer companies. But sudden fame has come with a price: questions about the record-setting race are being raised by beer-milers who have examined his video like assassination theorists poring over the Zapruder film. In online forums, some accuse Mr. Nielsen of gaining an unfair advantage by somehow de-fizzing the four cans of Budweiser he drank. Others question why he didn’t flip the first can upside down above his head to prove that he had completely drained its contents, as custom demands.

The Return of Local Currencies [Liz Farmer on Governing Magazine]

To work well, local currencies require a dedicated administrator who’s able to consistently promote and recruit new businesses. The Ithaca Hours program had that in its founder Paul Glover, who says he once sat down with a business owner who had too many Hours and wanted out of the system. He used his own money to exchange $100 worth of Hours and then helped devise a plan for how the owner could spend the remaining Hours locally on goods and services he needed. But since Glover handed over the Hours to a board a decade ago, the currency’s circulation has greatly diminished. The economic benefits touted by supporters — that local currencies protect mom-and-pop shops against the aggressions of big box retailers that send their profits outside the community — aren’t proven. And, says Loren Gatch, a political science professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, the financial impact is negligible because local currencies represent a tiny fraction of the U.S. dollars circulating in communities. But there can still be an upside: In just three years, the Bnote has gone from 55 participating Baltimore businesses to 220. Eight years ago, BerkShares were accepted at 100 businesses; now more than 400 retailers in the region accept them.

How to Get Rich Just by Moving [Ben Steverman on Bloomberg]

Feel like moving to Pittsburgh? Now there’s a city in a sweet spot, with cheap prices and, according to new BEA data that adjust average incomes for local inflation, relatively high incomes. Pittsburgh is 6.6 percent cheaper than the national average, and residents are the 36th best-paid in the U.S., bringing home almost $48,000 annually per person.

Monica Wehby’s Run for the Oregon Senate Results in Awkward Questions About Her Personal Life  [Mark Z. Barabak on The Los Angeles Times via Governing Magazine]

A relative moderate on issues like abortion, immigration and same-sex marriage, she fit the mold of Republicans who have won statewide office in the past. Then, just before the May 20 primary, reports surfaced regarding Wehby’s personal life _ a bitter divorce, a difficult romantic breakup, calls to the police by her ex-husband and a former boyfriend, who both accused her of harassment. Suddenly, her candidacy came under much harsher scrutiny and Oregon became the latest testing ground in the ever-fraught battle over politics and gender. Democrats, already pressed to keep their Senate majority, have quietly pushed the Wehby-as-stalker story, even as the incumbent, Jeff Merkley, distances himself to avert any backlash. Republicans have seized on the revelations, unearthed by Democratic research, to accuse the party of waging a war on women, hurling back the phrase Democrats use to attack GOP candidates on issues like contraception and equal pay.

The 1 Work Hack That Will Save You 900 Hours a Year [Dave Kerpen on Inc.]

During every call or meeting, no matter how short it is, I won’t end the discussion until everyone clearly understands their next steps, and until I’ve actually begun any next steps of my own. In other words: Begin your next steps during a meeting, and you will never have to spend a minute reviewing notes or figuring out what’s next…A good rule of thumb is to reserve 20% of every minute to review next steps. If it’s a five-minute meeting, take one minute; a 30-minute meeting, take six minutes; or an hour-long meeting, 12 minutes. During that time, make sure everyone understands what they need to do next, and if there’s time, begin the next steps in earnest.

Work Creates Less Stress Than Home, Penn State Researchers Find [Elizabeth Bernstein on The Wall Street Journal]

In a new study, published online last month in Social Science & Medicine, researchers at Penn State University found significantly and consistently lower levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, in a majority of subjects when they were at work compared with when they were at home. This was true for both men and women, and parents and people without children…The majority of subjects had on average lower levels of cortisol at work than at home. It made no difference what their occupation was, whether they were single or married or even if they liked their job or not. One intriguing finding: The only participants who didn’t have lower levels of cortisol at work—their levels remained the same as at home—were those who earned more than $75,000 a year. (The researchers, who didn’t pursue that finding for this study, said they believe the salary bar would have been higher in a city with a more expensive standard of living.) The study also found that while both parents and childless adults were less stressed at work, the difference was greater for people without children. Researchers say this may be because parents bring some home stress to work with them, or because children may help relieve stress at home. Both men and women showed less stress at work. But women were more likely to report feeling happier there. Men were more likely to feel happier at home. The researchers say this may be because women still do more housework and child care and may feel they have less free time.

Dimon’s Raise Haunts BNP as U.S. Weighs $10 Billion Penalty [Greg Farrell and Tiffany Kary on Bloomberg]

When JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)’s Jamie Dimon got a 74 percent raise in January, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara fumed. He had forced the bank just weeks before to pay $1.7 billion for enabling Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. And yet Dimon was being rewarded. Now, five months later, Bharara’s frustration is directed at another bank.

Guest Post: Afghanistan – Obama’s War [Steve Hanke, Professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University via Zero Hedge]

Graciana del Castillo, one of the world’s leading experts on failed states, has just written a most edifying book on the Afghan war (Guilty Party: The International Community in Afghanistan. Xlibris, 2014). Del Castillo’s book allows us to finally understand just what a fiasco the Afghan war has been. Why is Afghanistan, as Bob Woodward correctly termed it, Obama’s war? Del Castillo’s sharp pencil work shows that during the period 2002-2013, $650 billion have been appropriated for the Afghan war effort, and a whopping $487.5 billion of that (or 75 percent) took place after President Obama took office. If one pulls apart that $650 billion price tag, a variety of interesting sleights-of-hand emerge. For example, about $70 billion was disbursed to what is euphemistically termed “reconstruction.” But, in reality, 60 percent of this $70 billion (or $42 billion) was actually spent on beefing up the Afghan National Security Forces. And not surprisingly, 75 percent of the $42 billion spent on national security forces was spent under President Obama’s watchful eye. To put these outsized numbers into perspective, just consider that the total cost of the Afghan war from 2002-2013 amounts to $7089 per American taxpayer (based on the number of income tax returns). More revealing is the fact that the annual expenditure rate under the Bush administration was already $222 per taxpayer. Then, it exploded to an annual expenditure rate of $1329 per taxpayer under President Obama. In addition to laying out the phenomenal spending magnitudes on President Obama’s watch, del Castillo demonstrates just how unsustainable all this Afghan spending is. For example, in 2013, the United States financed over $5 billion of the $6.5 billion needed to field the Afghan National Security Forces. This $5 billion of U.S. financing was roughly 10 times more than the Afghan government actually spent from its own revenue sources. In fact, the U.S. funding of Afghan forces was almost three times the total revenue collected by the Afghan government.

What Corrupt States Spend Their Money On [Liz Farmer and Kevin Tidmarsh on Governing Magazine]

The study found that high levels of corruption in a state can shape its budget allocation. More corrupt states tended to spend money on construction, highways, and police protection programs, which provide more opportunity for corrupt officials to use public money for their own gain. These states spend less on health, education, and welfare, which provide less opportunity for officials to collect bribes, according to Indiana University’s John Mikesell, who co-authored the report with Cheol Liu of the University of Hong Kong.

5 facts about today’s college graduates [Drew Desilver on Pew Research Center]

Only about 56% of students earn degrees within six years. The National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit verification and research organization, tracked 2.4 million first-time college students who enrolled in fall 2007 with the intent of pursuing a degree or certificate. The completion rate was highest (72.9%) among students who started at four-year, private, nonprofit schools, and lowest (39.9%) among those who started at two-year public institutions.

In Nevada, nobody wins (sort-of) [Steven Shepard on Politico]

Nevada Democratic leaders acknowledged earlier this year that they had failed to recruit a credible candidate to face GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval in the fall. And on Tuesday, Silver State Democratic primary voters agreed, casting more votes for the state’s quirky “none of these candidates” option than any one of the eight actual humans on the ballot. “None of these candidates” earned 30 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race, outpacing the leading actual candidate, Robert Goodman, a retired state Economic Development commissioner from Las Vegas who’s run statewide twice before and shares a last name with the Vegas mayoral dynasty, at 25 percent. But according to state law, Goodman will win the nomination.

World Cup Opinions in 19 Countries: Likes, Dislikes, Predictions [Gregor Aisch, David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy on New York Times Upshot]

A strong plurality of fans in only three countries — Argentina, Brazil and Spain – predict their own country to win the tournament. (A plurality in the United States also picked the home team to win, against all odds, but that plurality consisted of only 14 percent of Americans; the rest picked another team or said they didn’t know who would win.) Everywhere else, the most common prediction was Brazil. In many countries, the home team was the second- or third-most commonly predicted winner. One notable exception: England. The English just don’t believe in their team anymore.

How Comments Shape Perceptions of Sites’ Quality—and Affect Traffic [Adam Felder on The Atlantic]

A couple of weeks ago, National Journal changed its comments policy, opting to eliminate comments on most stories as a way to stem the flood of abuse that appeared on the site. Naturally the comment-section reaction to that announcement helped reinforce the reason editors said comments had to go in the first place. For all the boycott threats and comparisons to Hitler, though… the site seems to be doing better now. If anything, user engagement has increased since the comment policy changed. Pages views per visit increased by more than 10 percent. Page views per unique visitor increased 14 percent. Return visits climbed by more than 20 percent. Visits of only a single page decreased, while visits of two pages or more increased by almost 20 percent…Respondents who saw comments evaluated the article as being of lower quality—an 8 percent difference. In other words, authors are judged not just by what they write, but by how people respond. The presence of comments did not make a statistically significant difference in a person’s likelihood to read more content by the same author, nor did it make an appreciable difference in respondent self-reported mood. The comments used in the sample group are perhaps worse than many Internet comments. They aso represent only a small sample of the whopping 7,725 comments—many of them negative or downright offensive—on the actual article. It’s easy to see how a reader might reassess her opinion of an article after catching a glimpse of thousands of negative opinions about it. There are good options for encouraging reader feedback: nice moderated comment sections, forums that build community, quick exchanges on Twitter, or lengthy feedback over email. But unmoderated comments appear to have a small, but real deleterious effect on readers’ perception of the sites on which they appear. And that appears to have implications for the bottom-line metric on the web: traffic.

Berkshire’s Radical Strategy: Trust [Andrew Ross Sorkin on New York Times Dealbook]

As Pollyannaish as Mr. Munger may sound, his view has a profound counterintuitive truth to it: Behavioral scientists and psychologists have long contended that “trust” is, to some degree, one of the most powerful forces within organizations. Mr. Munger and Mr. Buffett argue that with the right basic controls, finding trustworthy managers and giving them an enormous amount of leeway creates more value than if they are forced to constantly look over their shoulders at human resources departments and lawyers monitoring their every move.

Here’s Why the Student Loan Market Is Completely Insane [Eric Chemi on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Any other market with such varying default rates would feature borrowing rates that are varied to match more appropriately: Students from Stanford and Yale would pay far less than students at the University of Phoenix. That doesn’t happen in the student loan market—and that creates all kinds of skewed incentives. Subsidies go to the wrong people: taxpayers (and high-performing students) subsidize loans to below-average schools, because students at these poor-performing schools are loading up on much more debt than they should take on, at interest rates too low for their high risk of default.

When Michael Jordan Wore 45 [Zachary Crockett on Priceonomics]

The Bulls had struggled without Jordan during the 1994-95 season; by mid-March, they were 31-31. Then, with a two-word press release — “I’m Back” — Jordan made his glorious return. But when Jordan trotted out on the court on March 19, 1995, it was without his trademark 23 jersey. Upon his return, he’d made it clear that he wouldn’t be wearing number 23 again, since it was the last number his father had seen him play in; the number was immediately retired to Uniter Center’s rafters during a ceremony. This disallowed anyone else in the franchise to wear 23 — including MJ himself. For 22 games, Jordan played as number 45, but things just weren’t the same. Though he performed well (he scored 19 points in his first game back), many claimed he’d lost some of his mojo; the new jersey number became a scapegoat. While the Bulls rallied and managed to make it to the 1995 Eastern Conference Semi-finals, Jordan’s number debacle reached a tipping point. With 10 seconds on the clock in game 1, Orlando’s Nick Anderson stole the ball from Jordan — a play that led to the Magic’s game-winning basket. “Number 45 is not number 23,” Anderson told the press after the game. “I couldn’t have done that to number 23.”

Rekindled Iraq Conflict Stirs U.S. Veterans [Ben Kesling on The Wall Street Journal]

“When I left in April 2009, I said, ‘In five years there’ll be a civil war,’ ” said Keith Widaman, a former Marine staff sergeant who helped train Iraqi law enforcement during his deployment. “The Sunnis were stockpiling weapons and they weren’t using them against us. They were just holding on to them.”

How do we die? What killed Americans in 1900 vs. 2010 [Kyle Kim on The Los Angeles Times]

The most visually striking difference is the enormous decline of infectious diseases (pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis, etc). Advances in medicine and society have largely eradicated many of these diseases that were an overwhelming cause of death in 1900. Nephropathy (kidney disease) and cerebrovascular disease (stroke) have also seen sharp declines in the last century, while cancer, diabetes and heart disease have all now become major causes of death. Senility stopped being recorded as a cause of death in mid-1910. Alzheimer’s started being recorded in the late 1990s. If you’re a silver-linings kind of person, the news is still generally on the upswing: people are dying from what were once the leading causes of death at half the rate as they were in 1900.

The Complicated History Of ‘Tetris,’ Which Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary Today [Karyne Levy on Business Insider]

In 1988, Nintendo was working on its Game Boy handheld gaming system. When Rogers flew to Moscow to get the rights to “Tetris,” he struck a deal that would change history forever: exclusive pack-in rights for the game to be bundled with the Game Boy, rather than the company’s own game, “Super Mario Bros.” “I convinced the CEO of Nintendo of America, Minoru Arakawa, to include ‘Tetris’ rather than ‘Mario’ by saying to him, ‘If you want little boys to buy your machine include ‘Mario,’ but if you want everyone to buy your machine, include ‘Tetris,'” Rogers tells Business Insider. “I guess it worked. People say ‘Tetris’ made Game Boy and Game Boy made ‘Tetris.’ Both statements are true.”

Life Insurers Treat E-Cigs Just Like Other Cigarettes [John Tozzi on Bloomberg Businessweek]

A survey of 151 life insurance underwriters at a conference last week showed that nine in 10 considered e-cig users to be smokers. The survey, conducted by Munich American Reassurance Company, captured responses from about 20 percent of conference attendees. The majority said their companies didn’t yet have specific policies for e-cigarettes. The dilemma for life insurers is that even if electronic cigarettes turn out to be safer than their tobacco counterparts, the insurers have no way to tell the difference between a smoker and vaper. Underwriters ask people applying for life insurance about their tobacco use and then verify those responses with a blood or urine test for cotinine, a product of metabolizing nicotine found in both products.

Most Income Inequality: U.S. Cities [Bloomberg Visual Data: Bloomberg Best (and Worst)]

Income inequality is greatest in Atlanta, New Orleans and Miami

Curiously Strong Remains:

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The content on this site is provided as general information and entertainment only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial product, or to participate in any particular trading or investment strategy. The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of firms affiliated with the author. The author may or may not have a position in any security referenced herein and may or may not seek to do business with companies mentioned via this website. Any action that you take as a result of information or analysis on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.

 

26
May
14

Roundup – Fireproof

Best of the Best:

Remembering Brandon Lee’s Death 20 Years After ‘The Crow’ [Joel Stice on Warming Glow]

The scene that took Lee’s life was rather simple compared to the previous action sequences, calling for a .44 Magnum revolver to be cocked and pointed at the camera. To achieve the close-range of the camera shot, the bullets loaded had real brass caps, but no powder. The mistake happened when the freelance arms-master, James Moyer, was told by Carolco Studios he would no longer be needed and that the prop-master could finish the remaining scenes. After the closeup shot, the props-master dry-fired the gun, which knocked the slug off an empty cartridge and into the gun’s barrel. The gun was then loaded with powerful blanks that when fired by actor Michael Massee, propelled the slug out of the barrel and into Lee.

Newly Engaged Couple Receives Incredible Outpouring Of Insincerity From Family, Friends [The Onion]

“Oh my god! I’m so happy for you two!!!!” wrote Lyons’ old high school friend Jennifer Mescudi, whose hollow Facebook post was but one of dozens of congratulations from people who privately doubted the solidity of the relationship, only liked either the bride or the groom, or privately informed other friends that they gave the marriage 12 months tops.

Epic Fails of the Startup World [James Surowiecki on The New Yorker]

The eighteenth-century Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon, who coined the term “entrepreneur,” defined it as a “bearer of risk.” And in 1921 the economist Frank Knight argued that the function of entrepreneurs was to “specialize in risk-taking.” Yet studies of entrepreneurs find that, in general, they’re as risk-averse as everyone else. Only when it comes to starting a business are they daring. And that’s because the fundamental characteristic of entrepreneurs isn’t risk-seeking; it’s self-confidence. A 1997 study in the Journal of Business Venturing found that entrepreneurs are overconfident about their ability to prevent bad outcomes. They’re also overconfident about the prospects of their business. A 1988 study in the same journal of some three thousand entrepreneurs found that eighty-one per cent thought their businesses had at least a seventy-per-cent chance of success, and a third thought there was no chance they would fail—numbers that bear no relation to reality. A recent paper called “Living Forever” notes that entrepreneurs are more likely than other people to overestimate their life spans.

Crows Understand Water Displacement Better Than Your KidRead more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/crows-understand-water-displacement-better-your-kid-180950318/#rJHCrTEwTRuu39gy.99
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Crows Understand Water Displacement Better Than Your Kid [Rose Eveleth on Smithsonian]

Crows are clearly the evil geniuses of the bird world. Years of exploring crow intelligence have revealed that these birds are terrifyingly smart. And now new research confirms that crows understand a concept that most children don’t: water displacement…In the study, researchers put pieces of meat floating in long narrow glasses. The crows not only figured out that they could add objects to the glass to bring the treat to them, but they also went for the food in glasses with the highest water levels first.

This Chart Shows Just How Popular ‘Game Of Thrones’ Has Become [Josh Kurp on Warming Glow]

Despite the lack of Ser Pounce, last Sunday’s Game of Thrones was watched by 7.2 million people, a number that doesn’t include the millions more who “borrowed” their parents HBO GO password. That’s the highest rating not only this season, but of the entire show — it was bigger than Blackwater, bigger than the Red Wedding, bigger than every season finale. You cannot stop the Game of Thrones; you can only hope to contain it, but much like Jaime in a cage, it’ll probably still find a way to escape.

‘Mom’s Night Out’ Is A PG-Rated, Faith-Based Mom-Com: Viewer Discretion Advised [Heather Dockray on FilmDrunk]

Watching Mom’s Night Out, you might think it’s all good clean mom-edy. But humor is rooted in anxiety, and Mom’s Night Out is deeply nervous about the modern era. Men like Allyson’s husband flail at babysitting because they’re men – meant to work and throw big rocks and bone from the top. Women like Allyson and her friends can’t go out because they’re moms – meant to care and clean and fake full-body orgasms.

Harvard Student Group Cancels ‘Satanic Black Mass’ After Outcry [John Lauerman on Bloomberg]

Harvard University extension school students planning a “satanic black mass” canceled the event after an outcry by administration, students, faculty and religious leaders. The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club had decided to move the event off campus last night after widespread objections, and no other location was willing to host it, according to an e-mailed statement from the group.

America’s Thirst for IPA Beers Trickles Down to the Hop Farmers [Vanessa Wong on Bloomberg Businessweek]

As craft continues to rise, U.S. farmers are turning out more aroma hops. The country’s primary hop growing state, Washington, historically had about 70 percent of its acreage in alpha varieties and 30 percent in aroma. During the past few years the ratio has shifted to about 50-50, and the outlook for 2014 is 40 percent alpha to 60 percent aroma. The shift to pricier varieties is helping hop farmers turn profits on a crop that has lost money for years; the industry suffered an oversupply during the recession. George says prices are likely to remain high in the near term to pay for infrastructure improvements to meet craft brewers’ more demanding requirements. An average-sized grower in the Pacific Northwest will be investing upwards of $5 million, she estimates. The change has also led to an increased number of hop farms, many of which are small and supply only local brewers located outside the main growing region in the Northwest. According to the recently released U.S. Agriculture Census (PDF), there were 166 hop farms in 2012 compared to 68 in 2007. Craft beer, it seems, isn’t just luring new brewers and drinkers.

Income Inequality Is Higher In Democratic Districts Than Republican Ones [Joshua Green and Eric Chemi on Bloomberg]

32 of the 35 districts in which inequality is greatest are represented by Democrats (Republicans represent two; the other is vacant)…These data highlight an interesting dilemma for Democrats. Clearly, extreme inequality correlates strongly with Democratic political representation. As the income inequality grows, that will pose a threat to Republicans—and it’s why President Obama and the Democrats are talking so much about it. But as my Bloomberg News colleague Michael C. Bender notes today, this is unlikely to yield near-term gains for Democrats. Of the 100 districts with the highest levels of inequality, not one held by a Republican is considered to be in play this November.

The Secret Brazil Happy Meal McDonald’s Keeps Under Wraps [Denyse Godoy on Bloomberg]

After employees who rejected its regular menu of hamburgers and french fries on work breaks filed a complaint to prosecutors, the local operator of McDonald’s restaurants was required to provide dishes more in keeping with the local cuisine. While the meals don’t appear on behind-the-counter menu displays at the 816 McDonald’s across the South American country, they’re available to customers too. Just ask to see the “pratos executivos,” or “businessman’s specials.” With 35,429 restaurants in 119 countries, McDonald’s has long offered food tailored to local tastes, from the McKafta in Egypt to the Filet O Shrimp in Japan and the McVeggie burger in India. While the Brazilian options are kept under wraps, they’re available for purchase to avoid criticism the restaurant is serving employees special meals customers can’t buy.

When Can you Expect To Get Divorced? [Alex Mayyasi on Priceonomics]

The fact that over 10% of American marriages end within 5 years — and that only about half last “until death” — does not speak well of an institution meant to be permanent. But the data does not support the popular image of marriage lasting only a few years. Divorce rates are higher in the first 5 or so years, but at a rate you might expect. It’s hardly an epidemic. The spike in divorces after 5-7 years of marriage is also trumped by many other factors. One study using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that among couples who did not complete high school, half of all marriages ended in divorce. In contrast, the divorce rate among college graduate couples was 30%. This widely found result is not destiny. Rather it reflects that college graduates tend to marry later and have higher incomes, whereas poverty and getting married young both have been found to increase the risk of divorce…But even by the crude instrument of divorce rates, pessimism about matrimony appears overblown. The latest US census data shows that among marriages that began in the late nineties, the percentage that lasted at least 5 years is the highest it has been since Lyndon Johnson served as president. Reports of the demise of marriage have been greatly exaggerated.

The Most And Least Expensive Places In The World For A Cheap Date [Deutsche Bank via Zero Hedge]

And as we did last year, we focus on one specific subindex [3]: that looking at the price of “cheap dates” around the world. The index consists of i) a standard bouquet of roses, ii) cab rides, iii) pizza, iv) a soft drink, v) two movies tickets and vi) a couple of beers. While once again there is no data on the “hit rate” of said basket in culminating with a desired date “end goal”, what is clear is that the disparity between the most (London ) and least expensive (Mumbai) place for a cheap date is vast, at nearly five times, yet the difference continue to surge (the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, but all want to procreate) and is nearly double the 250% difference observed just one year ago.

Brushing Teeth With Sewer Water Next Step as Texas Faces Drought [Darrell Preston on Bloomberg]

The Texas city of more than 104,000, suffering the worst drought on record, is about to become the first place in the U.S. to treat sewage and pump it directly back to residents. People who live in Wichita Falls, northwest of Dallas on the Oklahoma border, say they’ll buy more bottled water and try not to think about what’s flowing through their pipes when they bathe, brush their teeth and make soup…Sewage has long been reused. Astronauts in the International Space Station turn urine back into drinking water. In Israel, more than half the water used in agriculture comes from treated sewage, according to the Israel Water Association. Only a few places around the globe, including Windhoek, Namibia, recycle it directly.

New World’s Oldest Skeleton Is a Key Genetic Link [Robert Lee Hotz on The Wall Street Journal]

As a specimen, the skeleton, belonging to a girl 15 or 16 years old, was formally designated HN5/48, but those who handled her bones have nicknamed her Naia, after the water nymphs of Greek mythology. Her remains embody the past and the present. She doesn’t look very much like a contemporary Native American. Her face instead resembles a modern African, indigenous Australian or Pacific Islander, the scientists said. Such differences have fueled theories that these first paleo-Americans and modern Native Americans have no kinship. Yet by the evidence of her maternal DNA—cross-checked by three independent laboratories—she is the ancestor of many Native Americans alive today, the researchers said. They share a unique genetic signature, called haplogroup D1, today found only in the indigenous people of the Americas, the researchers said.

Nice Is Tough Sell in Nebraska as State Ads Battle for Tourists [Mark Niquette and Jennifer Oldham on Bloomberg]

Washington pulled the plug on “SayWa” after only six months in 2006 when critics found it baffling. After more than two decades of “Georgia On My Mind,” the Peach State tried “Put Your Dreams in Motion.” That one died amid comparisons to Coca-Cola Co.’s catastrophic change to its signature soft drink’s formula in 1985. Alaska used “B4UDIE” for a month in 2005. The ads looked like vanity license plates, but conjured a frigid demise straight out of Jack London…Nationwide, tourism generated $887.9 billion in direct spending last year and $133.9 billion in revenue for governments, the U.S. Travel Association said. In Nebraska, it’s the third-largest income generator, bringing in $3.1 billion in 2012, according to a state-commissioned study last year. “Visit Nice” has a dual meaning, said Angela White, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Tourism Commission. It combines how people feel about the state with individual experiences at events such as the College World Series and Sandhill crane migration. Still, lacking snow-capped peaks or sugar-white beaches, Nebraska has to try harder, White said.

Pervasive Child Marriages Add to Women’s Struggles, Report Shows [Sandrine Rastello on Bloomberg]

More than 142 million girls from India to Niger will be married before they turn 18 over the next decade, increasing their chances of being illiterate, victims of domestic violence or infected with HIV, a World Bank report showed…The bank said child marriage remains “pervasive” in developing economies, with one in three girls wedded before 18 and one in nine before 15. A third of the world’s child brides live in India, according to the report, and girls from poor households in rural areas are most at risk.

Health Insurance and Death Rates [Christine Vestal on Stateline]

The authors caution that their conclusions, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, may not apply to all states, and other studies have shown little correlation between having insurance and living longer. Nevertheless, the Harvard study adds to a growing body of evidence that having health insurance increases a person’s life expectancy…In 2002, the Institute of Medicine estimated that the death rate of the uninsured is 25 percent higher than for otherwise similar people who have health insurance. According to the study, 18,000 excess deaths occurred each year because 40 million Americans lacked insurance. But a 2009 rebuttal study by Richard Kronick of the Health Research and Education Trust found that when adjusted for health status and other factors, the risk of subsequent mortality is no different for people who lack insurance than for those who are covered by employer-sponsored plans…The Harvard researchers compared Massachusetts death rates from 2001 to 2005 to the four-year period after the new health care law was enacted, and found that the mortality rate decreased by 3 percent between 2006 and 2010. Using county-level mortality rates from the CDC, they compared 4 million Massachusetts residents (the entire population from age 20 to 64) to a control group with similar demographics in counties in other New England states. Greater access to health care may have prevented as many as 320 deaths per year, the authors estimated. Changes were most pronounced in Massachusetts counties with lower household incomes and higher uninsured rates. According to the authors, providing health coverage to 830 uninsured adults prevented one death per year.

How the Real Atlantis was Drowned [Esther Inglis-Arkell on io9]

Ever heard of the city of Helike? For a long time it was as lost (and considered as mythical) as the city of Atlantis. Then one day someone found a coin from Helike, and the search was on. Take a look at how people found the ancient city of Atlantis — on land…Helike was built on a liquefaction zone. When an earthquake hits such a zone, the soil suddenly behaves as though it were water. Suddenly, all the buildings sink like they were dropped on the sea. Meanwhile, the sea — and any surrounding groundwater, is rushing upwards to meet them. In 373 BC, an earthquake turned the ground beneath Helike into liquid, and the entire city sank into a newly-made lagoon. Meanwhile, parts of the coast in the area broke off and slid into the sea, causing a massive tidal wave that rushed across the sea, rebounded off the far coast, came back, and buried the sunken city under water. A day and night of misfortune, and Helike was gone. Over time, silt and dirt washed into the lagoon and it dried up, burying the city in dirt. The lost Atlantis isn’t lurking under the sea. It’s buried in the ground.

Real-Life Scientists Who Meddled With Life and Death [Esther Inglis-Arkell on io9]

Sergei Bryukhonenko attached his newly-invented heart and lung machine to a dog’s head and kept it alive for quite some time, lying on a plate and eating and drinking. Though these experiments were distasteful, at least they had a clear medical purpose and their results wound up saving many human lives. Vladimir Demikhov, meanwhile, just went nuts and decided to make two-headed dogs for a while. He managed to successfully put one dog’s head on another dog’s body twenty times over, but none of the two-headed dogs lived longer than a month.

Deep Thoughts With the Homeless Billionaire [Devin Leonard on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Twelve years ago, Nicolas Berggruen sold his apartment, which was filled with French antiques, on the 31st floor of the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. He said he no longer wanted to be weighed down by physical possessions. He did the same with his Art Deco house on a private island near Miami. From that point on he would be homeless. Now he keeps what little he owns in storage and travels light, carrying just his iPhone, a few pairs of jeans, a fancy suit or two, and some white monogrammed shirts he wears until they are threadbare. At 51, the diminutive Berggruen is weathered, but still youthful, with unkempt brown hair and stubble. There’s something else he hung on to: his Gulfstream IV. It takes him to cities where he stays in five-star hotels. In London, he checks into Claridge’s. In New York, he’s at the Carlyle Hotel. In Los Angeles, he takes a suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills.

The Biggest Science Fiction Movie Hoaxes (and Scams) of All Time [Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders on io9]

An enterprising group of people set up a “production” company to film a horror movie called Wood Evil in Inchnacardoch Forest, near Fort Augustus in the Scottish Highlands. They set about “casting” extras and charging £60 to be in the film. This might have been just a small time scam, but the production company over reached and contacted the tour company VisitScotland in what could only have been an attempt to get busloads of eager tourists to be “cast” in their movie. VisitScotland appears to be the source who tipped the authorities off about the scam. And needless to say, the local constabulary was not amused. Similar scams were set up around the Twilight sequels, as every desperate Twihard was attempting to get close to their chosen hairless idol.

Bill & Hillary Forever [John Heilemann on New York Magazine]

[O]n September 11, [2008] Barack Obama made the pilgrimage to Harlem to have lunch with Bill Clinton. The meal was the first tête-à-tête between the soon-to-be president and the former one since the unpleasantness of the ­Democratic nomination contest, and feelings on both sides were still raw and fraught with suspicion. Clinton’s staff had wanted to include a Harlem stroll and ­photo op as part of the visit, but Obama’s people demurred—a standoff that led each camp to ascribe race-related motives to the other. Eager to avoid awkwardness, Obama kept the conversation focused on governance, not politics. But at the end, Clinton offered to hit the campaign trail for, or with, the nominee. Obama, fighting a stomach bug, said okay and then beat a hasty exit to avoid upchucking on Clinton’s shoes. In truth, neither side was delighted at the prospect of Clinton stumping for Obama. The latter’s team believed that he wouldn’t move many votes, and were only interested in having the two men appear onstage together to stop the press from harping on the fact that they had not. Clinton, meanwhile, was still simmering over his treatment during the primaries—in particular over Obama’s assertion, before the Nevada caucuses, that “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that … Bill Clinton did not.” On countless conference calls with his wife’s campaign, Clinton had returned obsessively to the slight, which he saw not as a gambit to get inside his head (which it was) but as Obama’s genuine opinion. “He would have been less angry if he thought it was tactical,” a former Clinton aide remembers. “But he thought Obama actually believed he was a shitty president.”

Boss Rail [Evan Osnos on The New Yorker]

The Wenzhou crash killed forty people and injured a hundred and ninety-two. For reasons both practical and symbolic, the government was desperate to get trains running again, and within twenty-four hours it declared the line back in business. The Department of Propaganda ordered editors to give the crash as little attention as possible. “Do not question, do not elaborate,” it warned, on an internal notice. When newspapers came out the next morning, China’s first high-speed train wreck was not on the front page. But, instead of moving on, the public wanted to know what had happened, and why. This was not a bus plunging off a road in a provincial outpost; it was dozens of men and women dying on one of the nation’s proudest achievements—in a newly wired age, when passengers had cell phones and witnesses and critics finally had the tools to humiliate the propagandists.

America’s Less Religious: Study Puts Some Blame On The Internet [Elise Hu on NPR]

His statistical analysis asked which variables were factors in our religious disaffiliation, and to what degree. The model found a causal relationship among three factors — a drop in religious upbringing, an increase in college-level education and the increase in Internet use — that together explain about 50 percent of the drop in religious affiliation. Of those, increased Internet use alone can account for about 20 percent of the decline.

More Young People Are Moving Away From Religion, But Why? [NPR]

Melissa Adelman, 30, raised Catholic “Starting in middle school we got the lessons about why premarital sex was not OK, why active homosexuality was not OK, and growing up in American culture, kids automatically pushed back on those things, and so we had some of those conversations in school with our theology teachers. The thing for me — a large part of the reason I moved away from Catholicism was because without accepting a lot of these core beliefs, I just didn’t think that I could still be part of that community. I remember a theology test in eighth grade where there was a question about homosexuality, and the right answer was that if you are homosexual, then that is not a sin because that’s how God made you, but acting upon it would be a sin. That’s what I put down as the answer, but I vividly remember thinking to myself that that was not the right answer.”

Thousands of Toddlers Are Medicated for A.D.H.D., Report Finds, Raising Worries [Alan Schwarz on The New York Times]

Dr. Visser’s analysis of Georgia Medicaid claims found about one in 225 toddlers being medicated for A.D.H.D., or 760 cases in that state alone. Dr. Visser said that nationwide Medicaid data were not yet available, but Georgia’s rates of the disorder are very typical of the United States as a whole. “If we applied Georgia’s rate to the number of toddlers on Medicaid nationwide, we would expect at least 10,000 of those to be on A.D.H.D. medication,” Dr. Visser said in an interview. She added that MarketScan data suggested that an additional 4,000 toddlers covered by private insurance were being medicated for the disorder. Dr. Visser said that effective nonpharmacological treatments, such as teaching parents and day care workers to provide more structured environments for such children, were often ignored.

Why the Mona Lisa Stands Out [Ian Leslie on Intelligent Life]

Cutting, a professor at Cornell University, wondered if a psychological mechanism known as the “mere-exposure effect” played a role in deciding which paintings rise to the top of the cultural league. In a seminal 1968 experiment, people were shown a series of abstract shapes in rapid succession. Some shapes were repeated, but because they came and went so fast, the subjects didn’t notice. When asked which of these random shapes they found most pleasing, they chose ones that, unbeknown to them, had come around more than once. Even unconscious familiarity bred affection. Back at Cornell, Cutting designed an experiment to test his hunch. Over a lecture course he regularly showed undergraduates works of impressionism for two seconds at a time. Some of the paintings were canonical, included in art-history books. Others were lesser known but of comparable quality. These were exposed four times as often. Afterwards, the students preferred them to the canonical works, while a control group of students liked the canonical ones best. Cutting’s students had grown to like those paintings more simply because they had seen them more…A study in the British Journal of Aesthetics suggests that the exposure effect doesn’t work the same way on everything, and points to a different conclusion about how canons are formed. Building on Cutting’s experiment, the researchers repeatedly exposed two groups of students to works by two painters, the British pre-Raphaelite John Everett Millais and the American populist Thomas Kinkade. Kinkade’s garish country scenes are the epitome of kitsch—the gold standard for bad art. The researchers found that their subjects grew to like Millais more, as you might expect, given the mere-exposure effect. But they liked Kinkade less. Over time, exposure favours the greater artist. The social scientists are right to say that we should be a little sceptical of greatness, and that we should always look in the next room. Great art and mediocrity can get confused, even by experts. But that’s why we need to see, and read, as much as we can. The more we’re exposed to the good and the bad, the better we are at telling the difference. The eclecticists have it.

Match Me if You Can: Lack of Matching Between Partners Predicts Divorce [Dr. Brent Mattingly and Amanda Mosley on Science of Relationships]

Level match refers to the degree to which your partner matches the precise “amounts” you would like of him or her on certain characteristics. To illustrate this idea, try this quick exercise. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, rate the degree to which your ideal partner should have a good sense of humor. If you want your ideal partner to score an 8 in sense of humor, and you perceive your partner as actually being an 8, then you have a level match. Pattern match, on the other hand, refers to how a partner matches on the relative importance of certain characteristics in relation to other characteristics, regardless of the precise amounts of those qualities. For example, suppose you prefer your ideal partner to have an 8 on sense of humor and a 9 on honesty. Although your actual partner may only be a 6 on sense of humor and a 7 on honesty, he or she still has the pattern of being more honest than funny, which matches what you prefer. In this case, you have a pattern match. Researchers recruited 169 newlywed couples and had them complete a questionnaire about their ideal partner preferences and perceptions of their actual partner’s attributes. Couples were then contacted about their marital status every 6 months for 3.5 years. Interestingly, pattern match (but not level match) significantly predicted divorce over time.

“We Can Still Be Friends”: Six Ways You Can Stay Friends After a Breakup [Dr. Brent Mattingly on The Science of Relationships]

Ex-couples are more likely to stay friends if the breakup was mutual. Also, post-dissolution friendships are more likely if the breakup was initiated by the man.4 In mutual breakups, the breakup is less negative since both partners were unhappy. However, men find it more difficult to breakup in the first place.4 Thus, when women initiate the breakup, men have a more difficult time dealing with the rejection and, by extension, are more resistant to transitioning into friendship…Exes are more likely to stay friends if the romantic relationship was satisfying.7 This shouldn’t be too surprising – happier relationships set the foundation for a potentially happy post-dissolution friendship. Then again, this begs the question as to why the couple broke up in the first place…We are more likely to stay friends with our exes if our friends and family support us. Having approval from important others helps ease the transition to post-dissolution friendship because we’re not having to answer the “Why are you still hanging around with him/her?” questions as much.

French rail company orders 2,000 trains too wide for platforms [Reporting by Gerard Bon and Elizabeth Pineau, writing by Nicholas Vinocur on Reuters]

France’s national rail company SNCF said on Tuesday it had ordered 2,000 trains for an expanded regional network that are too wide for many station platforms, entailing costly repairs. A spokesman for the RFF national rail operator confirmed the error, first reported by satirical weekly Canard Enchaine in its Wednesday edition.

Air Force Wants to Ground A-10 Vets Love [Bloomberg]

In an effort to save $4.2 billion over five years, the Pentagon wants to retire the 1970s-era A-10 attack jet. Combat veterans question the claim that newer, faster aircraft — such as the F-16, the F-15E, bombers and, eventually, the new F-35 fighter — can match the A-10 in providing “close air support,” striking targets on the ground to help soldiers in close combat.

Most Doctors Prescribe Antibiotics That Don’t Work [John Tozzi on Bloomberg Businessweek]

The Centers for Disease Control joined with medical societies in 2001 to recommend against prescribing antibiotics for acute bronchitis, a respiratory infection that comes with a nasty cough. The evidence against the practice is so clear that health-care providers are measured on how well they avoid it in quality ratings used by insurance companies and the government to evaluate effective care. The JAMA review excluded patients with other conditions that might warrant antibiotics. It also excluded the elderly and children to get as clear a picture as possible of cases of acute bronchitis in otherwise healthy people, Linder says. The study has some limitations; excluding so many patients left a relatively small sample size. Still, the researchers were looking at a situation where the prescribing rate “should be zero,” Linder notes, and found that it was 71 percent. Linder says the guidelines for bronchitis are widely understood by doctors. Patient demand—or, in some cases, doctors’ assumptions that people want antibiotics—leads them to write prescriptions anyway.

ESPN’s New $175M Studio: ‘Unlike Anything On Sports TV’ [Dan Haar on The Hartford Courant]

In a cut-rate bargain for Connecticut taxpayers, ESPN is expected to collect $10 million in tax credits. That’s instead of the $20-plus million package of grants, tax abatements and a large loan, much of it forgivable, that was announced on this spot nearly three years ago when Malloy made ESPN one of the state’s “First Five” companies with major development incentive money. The employee level, more than 4,000, up from 3,872 three years ago, has risen less than some anticipated — in part due to a layoff of about 125 people locally last year. But that’s not why the terms changed. Lawyers on both sides simply came up with a different package from the one Malloy announced in 2011, several sources said.

Recent Black College Grads Face Severe Underemployment [Josh Mitchell on Real Time Economics on The Wall Street Journal]

Among those with a job in 2013, more than half of black recent college graduates—56%–were in an occupation that typically doesn’t require a college degree, according to a report Tuesday by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a left-leaning Washington think tank. Among all recent college grads with a job, the rate still was a very high 45%. (The report defines a recent college grad as someone between the ages of 22 and 27 with a four-year degree.)

The Shawshank Residuals: How one of Hollywood’s great second acts keeps making money [Russell Adams on The Wall Street Journal]

On cable, “Shawshank” is at an age when the licensing value of many films diminishes, but its strength hasn’t wavered. “Shawshank” and other films are now being licensed for shorter periods to a bigger and hungrier universe of distributors. “Shawshank” has aired on 15 basic cable networks since 1997, including six in the most recent season, according to Warner Bros. Last year, it filled 151 hours of airtime on basic cable, tied with “Scarface” and behind only “Mrs. Doubtfire,” according to research firm IHS. “Shawshank,” despite its virtually all-male cast, was the most-watched movie on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network in the latest season and in the top 15% of movies among adults 18-49 on Spike, Up, Sundance and Lifetime…[Stephen] King never cashed the $5,000 check [writer/director Frank] Darabont sent him for the right to turn his story into a movie. Years after “Shawshank” came out, the author got the check framed and mailed it back to the director with a note inscribed: “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.”

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