Archive for April, 2014


Roundup – Game of Swears

Quote O’ the Day:

“I’m not a big fan of country club sports. My theory is that Gentiles were invented by golf as a way to propagate itself.”

– Buttockus Finch, Esq., “The Hollyweird Legal Round Up: A Golf Tee In The Butt Stunt Gone Wrong” [FilmDrunk]

Best of the Best:

What The Music You Love Says About You And How It Can Improve Your Life [Eric Barker via Time Magazine]

No, rock and heavy metal don’t lead people to commit suicide — but it’s possible that country music might: The results of a multiple regression analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate.

The Sleep Deprivation Publicity Stunt That Drove One Man Crazy [Esther Ingliss-Arkell via io9] – RW

Back in 1959…Peter Tripp, a radio DJ, decided to stay awake for 200 hours, broadcasting his regular show at its regular time, as a publicity stunt….Amazingly, most of the way through the ordeal, Tripp was able to do his show fairly well. He pulled himself together to keep the DJ patter going. Outside of the show, he deteriorated. After about a hundred hours of wakefulness, Tripp was no longer able to get through simple math problems or recite the alphabet. After 120 hours, he began having hallucinations. He walked into a nearby hotel room to shower and change, and, when he opened a chest of drawers for his clothes, saw flames shooting out of the open drawer. At first he thought that the scientists had set the fire, trying to prank him or make him drop out of the contest. Then he began believing the scientists were in a conspiracy against him, and wanted to frame him for a crime. When one scientist, a stuffy dresser, came up to him, Tripp believed that the man was an undertaker come to bury him, and ran away into the street. During long periods of sleep deprivation, the brain begins going into REM sleep cycles while a person is still awake. Most of the time, the person will still be able to function, if only on a basic level. During the REM cycles, they will begin to dream while they are still conscious. Tripp was having normal, if unpleasant, dreams, he just wasn’t having them in bed. As time went by, the confusion took over his mind. He started staring at a clock, believing that he could see the face of a friend in it. He came to be doubtful as to whether he was Peter Tripp, or was the friend. In the last few hours, he began confiding to scientists that, although everyone believed he was Peter Tripp, he was not.

Colorado Town Considers Letting Residents Shoot at Drones [Jennifer Oldham on Bloomberg]

Phillip Steel, a 49-year-old welding inspector, wrote the proposed law as a symbolic protest after hearing a radio news report that the federal government is drafting a plan to integrate drones into civilian airspace, he said. The measure sets a bounty of as much as $100 for a drone with U.S. government markings, although anyone who shoots at one could be subject to criminal or civil liability, according to the Federal Aviation Administration…The proposal allows town officials to spend as much as $10,000 in municipal funds to “establish an unmanned aerial vehicle recognition program.” Shooters must be on private property and are limited to three shots per so-called engagement, “unless there exists an imminent threat to life and safety.”

See Also: Colorado Town Rejects Plan to Let Residents Shoot Drones [Jennifer Oldham on Bloomberg]

South Sudan Ethnic Hatred Drives Rebel Leader’s White Army [William Davison on Bloomberg]

All members of the Nuer ethnic group, the troops of the so-called White Army who gathered by the Sobat River in eastern South Sudan are the strike force in rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar’s campaign against the government in Juba, the capital. They’re planning to march on Malakal, capital of Upper Nile state, and then attack the Paloch oil field, a key source of revenue for President Salva Kiir’s military. While Machar sits in his bush hideout coordinating his rebellion’s positions on peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and trying to force Kiir into concessions, members of the White Army have more basic desires. They’re fired by reports of widespread killings of Nuer after Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused Machar of attempting a coup d’etat in December. New York-based Human Rights Watch said in January that as many as 300 Nuer were massacred on Dec. 16 in Juba…Rachel Nyachop, 47, said she came from Malakal and is in Nasir looking for food. She’s lost three sons in this war, which she is adamant should continue. “The war will not be stopped until we kill all Dinka, including the children,” she said.

Teacher Tenure and Dismissal on Trial [Adrienne Lu on Stateline]

The lawsuit, filed by the nonprofit advocacy group Students Matter on behalf of nine public school students, followed unsuccessful attempts in contract negotiations and the legislature to give school districts more freedom to hire and fire teachers. The plaintiffs in Vergara v. California argued that the state’s employment rules leave so many ineffective teachers on the job that some students – many of them low-income and minority – fail to receive the education guaranteed by the state constitution. The two-month trial ended last Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court. A ruling is expected within several months.

How You, I, and Everyone Got the Top 1 Percent All Wrong [Derek Thompson on The Atlantic]

It turns out that wealth inequality isn’t about the 1 percent v. the 99 percent at all. It’s about the 0.1 percent v. the 99.9 percent (or, really, the 0.01 percent vs. the 99.99 percent, if you like). Long-story-short is that this group, comprised mostly of bankers and CEOs, is riding the stock market to pick up extraordinary investment income. And it’s this investment income, rather than ordinary earned income, that’s creating this extraordinary wealth gap.  The 0.1 percent isn’t the same group of people every year. There’s considerable churn at the tippy-top. For example, consider the “Fortunate 400,” the IRS’s annual list of the 400 richest tax returns in the country. Between 1992 and 2008, 3,672 different taxpayers appeared on the Fortunate 400 list. Just one percent of the Fortunate 400—four households—appeared on the list all 17 years. Now there’s your real 1 percent.

Carter Slams Religion and Men for Degrading Women [Manuela Hoelterhoff on Bloomberg]

In “A Call to Action,” the former president, who traveled to 145 countries with his wife, Rosalynn, and activists from their Carter Center in Atlanta, Ga., pulls no punches as he assails the forces that turn women into second-class citizens. He shows how religious leaders have purposefully doctored sacred texts to glorify men — and keep those women fetching water. He assails genital cutting, child brides, honor killing and trafficking, and outlines a “road to progress.”

Spite Is Good. Spite Works. [Natalie Angier on The New York Times]

Omar Tonsi Eldakar of Nova Southeastern University in Florida has studied the link between cooperative behavior and what he calls selfish punishment. “Why is everyone always assuming that it’s the good guys who are doing the punishing?” he asked. “Selfish individuals have more reason than anyone else to want to get rid of other cheaters.”…Using game theory models, Dr. Eldakar has demonstrated that when selfish players intent on maximizing their profits regularly punish other selfish players or exclude them from the group, the net outcome is an overall decline in selfish exchanges to a reasonably stable state. “It’s like the Mafia,” he said. “They end up reducing crime in the areas they inhabit.”

See Also: The Surprising Reason We Pay for a Stranger’s Coffee [Peter Coy on Bloomberg Businessweek] : “To the philosophers, the most interesting part of their model is that it generates some fairness without any altruism, since the only altruistic player, the Judge, is pushed out of the game. (There is one other equilibrium consisting of Laid-Back Person and the Judge, but it’s not as stable.) I spoke with Forber today about the authors’ rather dark vision. ‘It’s not fairness in the sense of justice and equity for all,” he said. “But it does generate some fairness in the population.’ I asked him if he thought this model, in which the two surviving types in the population are Spiteful Person and Laid-Back Person, accurately reflects modern society. ‘That’s an excellent question,’ he said. ‘It’s a very idealized experiment. That said, these models can represent biological evolution and learning. There are general lessons. It’s a second possible route to a kind of fair play. It’s a route that many people thought didn’t exist.'”

Former McDonald’s Store Managers Say They Withheld Wages [Leslie Patton on Bloomberg]

Two former McDonald’s Corp. store managers, assisting with a campaign to raise pay for fast-food workers, said they helped withhold employees’ wages at the restaurant chain after facing pressure to keep labor costs down. The ex-managers, who came forward as part of an effort backed by worker advocacy group Fast Food Forward, said they engaged in tactics such as asking employees to continue working after they clocked out or adding unpaid breaks to time sheets. They took the steps to avoid exceeding a store’s strict goals for wage expenses, said Lakia Williams, a former assistant manager at a McDonald’s in Charleston, South Carolina…The new allegations follow a wave of lawsuits in March claiming that McDonald’s workers were being idled without pay for minutes and hours at work during slow periods, in violation of U.S. and state labor laws. Some workers also allege that McDonald’s requires them to pay for their uniforms, driving their pay below legal minimums. On the day the lawsuits were filed, McDonald’s said it was reviewing the allegations and would take necessary actions. Contact information for the two managers was provided by BerlinRosen, a public-relations firm that is managing the media effort for Fast Food Forward. The advocacy group, which has received funding from the Service Employees International Union, also commissioned a survey on fast-food wages as part of the campaign.

How the Chicken Conquered the World [Jerry Adler and Andrew Lawler on The Smithsonian]

How did the chicken achieve such cultural and culinary dominance? It is all the more surprising in light of the belief by many archaeologists that chickens were first domesticated not for eating but for cockfighting. Until the advent of large-scale industrial production in the 20th century, the economic and nutritional contribution of chickens was modest. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond listed chickens among the “small domestic mammals and domestic birds and insects” that have been useful to humanity but unlike the horse or the ox did little—outside of legends—to change the course of history. Nonetheless, the chicken has inspired contributions to culture, art, cuisine, science and religion over the millennia. Chickens were, and still are, a sacred animal in some cultures. The prodigious and ever-watchful hen was a worldwide symbol of nurturance and fertility. Eggs hung in Egyptian temples to ensure a bountiful river flood. The lusty rooster (a.k.a. cock) was a universal signifier of virility—but also, in the ancient Persian faith of Zoroastrianism, a benign spirit that crowed at dawn to herald a turning point in the cosmic struggle between darkness and light. For the Romans, the chicken’s killer app was fortunetelling, especially during wartime. Chickens accompanied Roman armies, and their behavior was carefully observed before battle; a good appetite meant victory was likely. According to the writings of Cicero, when one contingent of birds refused to eat before a sea battle in 249 B.C., an angry consul threw them overboard. History records that he was defeated.

How the end of slavery led to starvation and death for millions of black Americans [Paul Harris on The Observer via The Guardian] – RW

[As Jim Downs of Connecticut College] shows in his book, Sick From Freedom, the reality of emancipation during the chaos of war and its bloody aftermath often fell brutally short of that positive image. Instead, freed slaves were often neglected by union soldiers or faced rampant disease, including horrific outbreaks of smallpox and cholera. Many of them simply starved to death. After combing through obscure records, newspapers and journals Downs believes that about a quarter of the four million freed slaves either died or suffered from illness between 1862 and 1870. He writes in the book that it can be considered “the largest biological crisis of the 19th century” and yet it is one that has been little investigated by contemporary historians. Downs believes much of that is because at the time of the civil war, which raged between 1861 and 1865 and pitted the unionist north against the confederate south, many people did not want to investigate the tragedy befalling the freed slaves. Many northerners were little more sympathetic than their southern opponents when it came to the health of the freed slaves and anti-slavery abolitionists feared the disaster would prove their critics right..So bad were the health problems suffered by freed slaves, and so high the death rates, that some observers of the time even wondered if they would all die out. One white religious leader in 1863 expected black Americans to vanish. “Like his brother the Indian of the forest, he must melt away and disappear forever from the midst of us,” the man wrote. Such racial attitudes among northerners seem shocking, but Downs says they were common. Yet Downs believes that his book takes nothing away from the moral value of the emancipation. Instead, he believes that acknowledging the terrible social cost born by the newly emancipated accentuates their heroism.

14 Interview Questions You Should Never Answer [Jacquelyn Smith on Business Insider] – CS

In a recent LinkedIn post, Bernard Marr, a global enterprise performance expert and a best-selling business author, says he’s always astonished to hear that candidates have been asked such inappropriate questions. “It can be very easy for interviewers to cross the line and ask questions that are inappropriate, and in many cases even illegal,” he says. “I believe that asking those questions in most cases [is] not done on purpose, but [rather] because of a lack of training and awareness, or even to break the ice and create a more friendly atmosphere.” But the purpose of the job interview is to establish whether you are right for the job and company, and whether the company is right for you, Marr says. So the questions you’re asked should never go beyond the professional assessment of your skills, enthusiasm, and fit.

The Grass Is Greener on the Internet: Pornography, Alternatives, and Infidelity [Dr. Benjamin Lee on Science of Relationships]

In short, these data suggest that watching pornography can lead to increased perceptions of alternatives to relationships, and perceptions of alternatives and increased cheating are associated with one another. Of course, one study on this topic doesn’t end the debate, but the researchers present an interesting argument for how perceptions of alternatives are a possible pathway by which porn could hurt the long-term success of relationships.

Female Adolescents’ First Coitus: Gaining Sexual Experience, Not Just “Losing” Virginity [Dr. Tim Loving on Science of Relationships]

This may seem obvious, but young heterosexual women are often characterized as having sex because their partners wanted to do the deed; turns out young women can and do engage in sex for the first time for their own reasons. Further, in addition to feeling greater sexual interest, the women also reported greater “partner support” (e.g., “He made me feel loved”) the day of first coitus (and the day after) relative to the day prior, providing some evidence that first time experiences generally occurred in a positive context.

The “Cheerleader Effect” (Yes, It Exists) [Dr. Dylan Selterman on Science of Relationships]

The researchers tested this idea by showing participants photos of other people (targets) who were either alone or next to others, and participants rated the attractiveness of the person/people in the photos with a sliding (low to high) scale. In 5 experiments, participants consistently rated both male and female faces as more attractive in the group condition relative to the alone condition, even though the faces were exactly the same in both conditions.

Most of what your doctor does, a robot can do better [Gina Siddiqui on Quartz]

Doctors average 23 seconds before interrupting their patients. Why tolerate that disrespect when a machine could process the same information politely and produce the right diagnosis more often? With competition like this, the division of labor in medicine between man and machine is going to change. The next phase may follow the chess world. After the Deep Blue supercomputer beat the world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, something interesting happened. Humans didn’t stop playing chess. Instead, “advanced chess” was born, whereby humans and computers teamed up. Some of those teams won against the otherwise unbeatable supercomputers. In medicine too, doctors hold the potential for synergy with their programmed counterparts. It is worth noting that the best human-computer chess teams were not composed of the best independent chess players. Instead, it was the humans who asked a lot of questions and took the time to weigh the computer’s different approaches. The best doctors will no longer be the ones with the best memory for differential lists or dosages, the doctors who were the most impressive against computers. Now that computers have eclipsed us in these realms, the best doctors will hone complementary skills with computers. They will focus on relating to their patients as people, and when planning treatment they will have the humility to leverage technical tools rather than try to do it all on their own.

A Pivotal Financial Crisis Case, Ending With a Whimper [Jesse Eisinger on The New York Times Dealbook]

Then there is Mr. Lewis’s high-priced lawyer. The lawyer issued a scathing assessment of the case initially. Mr. Cuomo’s decision to sue was “a badly misguided decision without support in the facts or the law,” this lawyer said. There is “not a shred of objective evidence” to support the case. Who was this zealous advocate? One Mary Jo White. You may recall her from such roles as the current chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Republicans Demand That the Feds Impose Pot Prohibition on States That Have Opted Out [Jacob Sullum on Reason] – RW

The memo that Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued on August 29 makes no promises, but it suggests that prosecuting state-legal cannabusinesses is not a good use of federal resources unless they are contributing to one of the eight problems listed in the memo, which include distribution to minors, sales of other drugs, interstate smuggling, violence, and organized crime. [Attorney General Eric] Holder is right that such prioritization is within his authority under the Controlled Substances Act, and [Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo)] Smith is wrong to suggest otherwise. Furthermore, this misguided argument in favor of imposing pot prohibition on recalcitrant states puts Republicans on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of their own avowed principles.

Why Education Spending Doesn’t Lead to Economic Growth [Charles Kenny on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Analysis by Lawrence Katz and Claudia Goldin suggests that increased educational attainment among Americans from 1915 to 1999 might account for 10 percent of the growth in U.S. GDP over that time. Some commentators contend that this an underestimate (PDF). But at the global level, no relationship has been found between a more educated population and more rapid economic development. There has been an explosion in schooling in developing countries, but many show nothing like explosive growth in GDP per person. By 2010, the average Kenyan had spent more years in school than the average French citizen had in 1985. But Kenya’s GDP per capita in 2010 was only 7 percent of France’s GDP per head 25 years earlier. What explains the limited impact of increased education on economic growth? A possible answer is that education acts as a filter rather than an investment. A recent study (PDF) in Italy found that test scores had a significant impact on the earnings of employees—but none on the earnings of self-employed people. One interpretation of that result is that schooling signals persons with intelligence and ambition, rather than actually imparting or indicating skills that make them better at their jobs over the long term. Signaling helps as a screening tool for employers, but makes no difference to people who work for themselves. Presumably, they already know how smart and ambitious they are.

The Woman Behind Apple’s First Icons [Zachary Crockett on Priceonomics]

[W]hen a chance encounter in 1982 reconnected her with an old friend and Apple employee, Kare found herself working in a different medium, with a much smaller canvas — about 1,024 pixels. Equipped with few computer skills and lacking any prior experience with digital design, Kare proceeded to revolutionize pixel art. For many, Susan Kare’s icons were a first taste of human-computer interaction: they were approachable, friendly, and simple, much like the designer herself. Today, we recognize the little images — system-failure bomb, paintbrush, mini-stopwatch, dogcow — as old, pixelated friends. But Kare, who has subsequently done design work for Microsoft, Facebook, and Paypal, has also become her own icon, immortalized in the annals of pixel art.

So You Think You’re Smarter Than A CIA Agent  [Alix Spiegel on NPR]

For the past three years, Rich and 3,000 other average people have been quietly making probability estimates about everything from Venezuelan gas subsidies to North Korean politics as part of , an experiment put together by three well-known psychologists and some people inside the intelligence community. According to one report, the predictions made by the Good Judgment Project are often better even than intelligence analysts with access to classified information, and many of the people involved in the project have been astonished by its success at making accurate predictions. When Rich, who is in her 60s, first heard about the experiment, she didn’t think she would be especially good at predicting world events. She didn’t know a lot about international affairs, and she hadn’t taken much math in school. But she signed up, got a little training in how to estimate probabilities from the people running the program, and then was given access to a website that listed dozens of carefully worded questions on events of interest to the intelligence community, along with a place for her to enter her numerical estimate of their likelihood…Rich’s numbers worked out incredibly well. She’s in the top 1 percent of the 3,000 forecasters now involved in the experiment, which means she has been classified as a superforecaster, someone who is extremely accurate when predicting stuff like: Will there be a significant attack on Israeli territory before May 10, 2014? In fact, she’s so good she’s been put on a special team with other superforecasters whose predictions are reportedly 30% better than intelligence officers with access to actual classified information. Rich and her teammates are that good even though all the information they use to make their predictions is available to anyone with access to the Internet.

America, Why Are You Naming All Your Boys Like This? [Robert T. Gonzalez on io9] – RW

The rise in popularity of boys’ names that end in “n” has been unprecedented. In 2009, baby name expert Laura Wattenberg told the New York Times that “n” has managed to achieve terminal-letter-ascendancy in a matter of decades, “[taking] over in a way that no ending has taken over before, for boys.”…At the time of her 2009 NYT interview, Wattenberg called the rise of the terminal-n “historically bizarre.” It’s only gotten weirder. Since 2011, four of the 10 most popular names for baby boys have ended in “n.” A full 36% of boys’ names now end in the letter.

Daytime Napping Linked to Increased Risk of Death [Robert T. Gonalez on io9]

The study, led by University of Cambridge epidemiologist Yue Leng, looked at the associations between daytime napping and mortality in a survey of over 16,000 British men and women. Their findings suggest that daytime nappers are nearly a third more likely to die before they turn 65 (even after they accounted for things like sex, social class, smoking status, and more)…Leng and the other authors of the present study note that “the exact mechanisms of these associations remain unknown,” but previous investigations into the link between napping and increased mortality have found daytime sleepiness to be associated with poor sleep hygiene, which itself is linked to a whole slew of other problems cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic in nature.

Newly Released Color Films Show The Utter Devastation Wrought By WW2 [George Dvorsky on io9]

The Hoover Institution has just release five reels of recently restored color films taken by lieutenant colonel William P. Miller from 1943 to 1945. They provide a rare and disturbingly real glimpse into the era, including shots of the battle-scarred cities at the center of the conflict. The films, which were made possible by a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation, include shots taken in North Africa, Germany, and Austria.

That Time The CIA And Howard Hughes Tried To Steal A Soviet Submarine [Mark Strauss on io9]

Recently declassified documents reveal new details about Project AZORIAN: a brazen, $800-million CIA initiative to covertly salvage a Soviet nuclear submarine in plain sight of the entire world.

The U.S. has treated Russia like a loser since the end of the Cold War. [Jack F. Matlock, ambassador to the U.S.S.R. from 1987 to 1991, via The Washington Post]

Because the collapse of the Soviet Union happened so soon afterward, people often confuse it with the end of the Cold War. But they were separate events, and the former was not an inevitable outcome of the latter. Moreover, the breakup of the U.S.S.R. into 15 separate countries was not something the United States caused or wanted. We hoped that Gorbachev would forge a voluntary union of Soviet republics, minus the three Baltic countries. Bush made this clear in August 1991 when he urged the non-Russian Soviet republics to adopt the union treaty Gorbachev had proposed and warned against “suicidal nationalism.” Russians who regret the collapse of the Soviet Union should remember that it was the elected leader of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, who conspired with his Ukrainian and Belarusian counterparts to replace the U.S.S.R. with a loose and powerless “commonwealth.” Even after the U.S.S.R. ceased to exist, Gorbachev maintained that “the end of the Cold War is our common victory.” Yet the United States insisted on treating Russia as the loser.

Lavender-Filled Teddy Bears From Tasmania Are a Big Hit in China [Dinny McMahon on The Wall Street Journal]

Voracious demand from Chinese tourists for luxury goods to give as gifts or to sell at a markup back home often threatens to clear the shelves of major brands in France. Gucci stores in Paris sometimes limit the number of bags customers can buy per passport to ensure supply. Karicare, a brand of milk powder made from New Zealand goats’ milk that sells in Australia and New Zealand, has quadrupled production to 20,000 tons over the last three years to meet demand from Chinese consumers, some of whom are reselling online in China. Even that might not be enough. The company, a unit of Group Danone, says on its website that due to “unprecedented demand” it cannot find enough high quality goats milk. The craze for Bobbie the teddy bear has come with all the attendant effects of a China boom. Bridestowe sells Bobbie for about $48.50 or about 300 yuan, up from about $23 five years ago, after raising the price five times. In China, online retailers currently sell them for about 400 yuan, up from 300 only a few months ago. But, Mr. Ravens said, many are knockoffs; his authorized distributor estimates 100,000 fakes have been sold online. Three online retailers reached in China all said they were selling authentic Bobbie Bears…Bridestowe stuffed 30,000 bears last year—up from 3,500 in 2011 and 7,500 in 2012—and expects to double production this year, using a full ton of lavender for stuffing, rather than for aromatic oils, its traditional use.

SABMiller’s Hero Taps Into Biafra Nostalgia in Nigeria [Dulue Mbachu on Bloomberg]

At the Estate Sports Club in the southeastern Nigerian city of Onitsha, men troop up to the open-air bar and order a bottle of “Oh Mpa,” the local name for SABMiller Plc’s Hero beer. Oh Mpa means “Oh Father” in Igbo, the language of the area, and is widely regarded as referring to the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who led a failed attempt to secede from Nigeria in the 1960s and set up an independent nation of Biafra that sparked a 30-month civil war. With its Hero bottles bearing the rising sun that appeared on the Biafran flag, SABMiller is tapping into the area’s nationalism.

Run The Jules: Your Guide To The USMNT’s Newest (Maybe?) Star [Billy Haisley on Deadspin]

So, what can we expect? If he’s not a lock for the World Cup—and Klinsmann has denied promising Green a ticket to Brazil in exchange for his commitment—he at least has a good shot at making the trip. Just by scoring 15 goals in 22 games for the Bayern reserve squad playing in the German fourth tier and training with Bayern proper, he’s done more than Brek Shea, who’s back on Stoke’s bench after getting booted from his loan team. And what USMNT fan wouldn’t rather see Green’s number held up to sub off a tired Graham Zusi rather than that of Joe Corona? The most important factor in Green’s World Cup bid might be the response of other USMNT players. Don’t forget, it wasn’t too long ago that anonymous players were complaining about Klinsmann’s leadership style and the American, Mexican, and German factions in the side failing to coalesce. While the team overcame those issues to finish a historic qualifying campaign, they might not take too well to a long-time World Cup hopeful like Brad Evans being left home for some Jürgen-come-lately who hasn’t proven his ability on any level. It sounds like the other players were welcoming when Green was last in camp, though, and despite any potential misgivings, those guys have to be as intrigued with talent like his as we are.

The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want U.S. to intervene [political scientists Kyle Dropp (Dartmouth College), Joshua D. Kertzer (Harvard University) and Thomas Zeitzoff (Princeton University) via The Washington Post]

Does it really matter whether Americans can put Ukraine on a map? Previous research would suggest yes: Information, or the absence thereof, can influence Americans’ attitudes about the kind of policies they want their government to carry out and the ability of elites to shape that agenda. Accordingly, we also asked our respondents a variety of questions about what they thought about the current situation on the ground, and what they wanted the United States to do. Similarly to other recent polls, we found that although Americans are undecided on what to do with Ukraine, they are more likely to oppose action in Ukraine the costlier it is — 45 percent of Americans supported boycotting the G8 summit, for example, while only 13 percent of Americans supported using force. However, the further our respondents thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95 percent  confidence level. Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.

Why UPS Trucks Don’t Turn Left [Alex Mayyasi on Priceonomics]

In 2004, UPS announced a new policy for its drivers: the right way to get to any destination was to avoid left-hand turns…UPS engineers found that left-hand turns were a major drag on efficiency. Turning against traffic resulted in long waits in left-hand turn lanes that wasted time and fuel, and it also led to a disproportionate number of accidents. By mapping out routes that involved “a series of right-hand loops,” UPS improved profits and safety while touting their catchy, environmentally friendly policy. As of 2012, the right turn rule combined with other improvements — for the wow factor, UPS doesn’t separate them out — saved around 10 million gallons of gas and reduced emissions by the equivalent of taking 5,300 cars of the road for a year.

Small Slice of Doctors Account for Big Chunk of Medicare Costs [Christopher Weaver, Tom McGinty and Louise Radnofsky on The Wall Street Journal]

A tiny sliver of doctors and other medical providers accounted for an outsize portion of Medicare’s 2012 costs, according to an analysis of federal data that lays out details of physicians’ billings. The top 1% of 825,000 individual medical providers accounted for 14% of the $77 billion in billing recorded in the data. The long-awaited data reveal for the first time how individual medical providers treat America’s seniors—and, in some cases, may enrich themselves in the process. Still, there are gaps in the records released by the U.S. about physicians’ practice patterns, and doctors’ groups said the release of such data leaves innocent physicians open to unfair criticism. (Search Medicare payments to providers in 2012.) Medicare paid 344 physicians and other health providers more than $3 million each in 2012. Collectively, the 1,000 highest-paid Medicare doctors received $3.05 billion in payments. One-third of those top-earning providers are ophthalmologists, and one in 10 are radiation oncologists. Both specialties were singled out in a late 2013 report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services urging greater scrutiny of doctors who consistently receive large Medicare payments.

See also: Doctor-Pay Trove Shows Limits of Medicare Billing Data [Christopher Weaver, Melinda Beck and Ron Winslow on The Wall Street Journal]

Number of Home Owners Lower than 2006 [Tom Lawler via Calculated Risk]

One of the most striking statistics is the number of US home owners: There were fewer US home owners in 2013 than there were in 2006, despite a 7% increase in the 15+ year old population!

Baseball, Hot Dogs And Income Inequality [Nick Colas on Covergex via Zero Hedge]

The concept of inequality on America seems to hit closer to home when it is apparent in the nation’s greatest pastime. Indeed, the most expensive tickets to a MLB game in the most equal cities in the U.S. cost 15.5 times more than the cheapest seats to the same game. Among the most unequal cities in the country, the spread is significantly larger at 26.4 times. Going to a baseball game is uniquely American, and the good news is that the low-end tickets are still affordable. Prices for high-end seats, however, are skyrocketing as franchises build new stadiums with state-of-the-art amenities when and where they know they can charge exorbitant rates – and this is most evident in cities where inequality is higher than the national average.

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