What we're talking about One Big (Happy) Family Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Big (Happy) Family

My children made me try a chocolate-covered gummy bear the other day. Now a chocolate gummy bear is not a local, sustainable or home-grown food, and frankly, I don’t like gummy bears (the only good use I ever had for them was in college, where nothing would keep posters on cinder-block walls without damaging the…

If you’ve thought about foster parenting at all, even for a couple of minutes, you probably grasp that someone has to do it. Because the truth is that kids whose parents can’t care for them has been a global problem for all of human history. It is a problem that could get better or worse…

Technically, the recession is over. So it may come as a surprise to learn that more U.S. children are living in poverty right now than during the Great Recession. To be more specific: About 1.7 million more children live in low-income working families than just a few years ago.

Raising ten children—some biological, others adopted or in foster care—is far from a burden for Sharon Astyk. On the contrary, she says it mandates an artfulness to living, allowing her and her husband to help create something new and greater from the sum of many parts. Sharon writes that the result is "more fascinating, more fun, more engaging [...] a job worth building a life around." While some parenting hurdles multiply with more kids, others stay the same—or even vanish. And beyond the concerns of day-to-day living, Sharon knows she is maintaining and building new family ties for foster siblings who could otherwise be scattered among different households. In an older post, Sharon describes 100 kinds of people who should consider fostering a child, arguing that a diversity of parents will benefit the diversity of children needing a safe home. Meanwhile, on The Pump Handle, Kim Krisberg writes that one metric associated with the need for foster care—childhood poverty—continues to flounder. According to a new report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, about 3 million more children in the U.S. now live in poverty than did in 2008.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

The Republican Party and its handlers, including the right wing talk radio jocks such as Rush Limbaugh, and the bought-and-paid-for media such as FOX news, did not create the Tea Party. Michele Bachmann and a few others did that.* But once the Tea Party got going, mainstream conservative Republicans, including and especially leaders in Congress,…

I endorse this article: 5 Ways That Science Supports Feminism – Not Gender Essentialism. It’s making the point that when you actually study the relevant sciences, you discover that they fundamentally support a more complex view of sexuality than the usual boy/girl dichotomy. Here, in brief, are the five points it makes: 1. There Are…

If you’re reluctant to drop $80 on a copy of Zimmer/Emlen’s Evolution: Making Sense of Life, here’s a deal for you: the NCSE will let you download a chapter for free, the one on macroevolution (pdf). That’s a good choice. I run into a fair number of pro-science people who think the macroevolution/microevolution distinction is…

Physical Science

“When I say, ‘I love you,’ it’s not because I want you or because I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand…

Earlier this week, Stephen Hawking shook up the world when he announced that he had uncovered the solution to the black hole information paradox at a conference in Stockholm. When particles fall into (or create) a black hole, information is encoded on the black hole’s surface, but when the black hole decays into radiation, that information…

“The slow philosophy is not about doing everything in tortoise mode. It’s less about the speed and more about investing the right amount of time and attention in the problem so you solve it.” –Carl Honore If you wanted to know how fast you were moving through space, you’d need to measure it all: the…

Environment

We’re gonna run out of food. When, why (not what you think), can we put it off, and if so, how? And GMOs, what about them? I interviewed food supply expert Emily Cassidy on Atheist Talk Radio, Mike Huabrich hosting. You can CLICK HERE and listen to the interview. Additional background and some more links,…

Heather Cooley and Peter Gleick California is in a severe drought – four years long now. But what does the drought really mean for the things we care about: food production, fisheries, industrial activities, rural communities? As part of the work of the Pacific Institute to evaluate both the impacts of water problems and identify…

UPDATE: First, I would like to note that there has been an odd reaction in various quarters to me posting on this storm. It is as though those who wish to deny the importance of climate and weather, and changes therein, would prefer we not speak of tropical storms. I wonder why. The original point…

Humanities

Women in the trucking industry face severe sexual harassment, rape and retaliation; advocates call out chemical giant DuPont on their safety consulting business; home health care workers gain new wage protections; and Texas cities take action on living wages.

August 13th was Earth Overshoot Day. The correct date, if calculated precisely, would come earlier and earlier each year, the current choice is just an approximation. This year, the year 2015, by sometime around August 13th, humanity had consumed as much of what we require from the lands and seas as our planet can sustainabley…

The authors of a new paper note that “one of the principal ways in which we interact using our faces is kissing.” This reminds me of an old National Lampoon joke on how the French were famous for inventing sex acts with the face. But I digress. This paper looks at neural imaging responses of…

Education

A couple of articles came across my feeds in the last day or two that highlight the truly important cultural divide in academia. Not the gap between sciences and “humanities,” but the much greater divide between faculty and administration. This morning, we have an Inside Higher Ed essay from Kellie Bean on the experience of…

Another new study published in Nature Communications shows follows along with the prior post and shows that ancestral dogs were ambush hunters that evolved from forest dwelling animals similar to a mongoose (or a cat).  An international team of researchers studied archived samples of elbows and teeth of multiple species of dogs that lived between 40 – 2…

New research suggests that cats may have played a role in the extinction of about 40 species of wild dogs by simply out-hunting them and therefore consuming more food. The study noted that dogs first appeared in North America around 40 million years ago and by 22 million years ago there were over 30 species of wild dogs. Cats arrived…

Politics

The Republican Party and its handlers, including the right wing talk radio jocks such as Rush Limbaugh, and the bought-and-paid-for media such as FOX news, did not create the Tea Party. Michele Bachmann and a few others did that.* But once the Tea Party got going, mainstream conservative Republicans, including and especially leaders in Congress,…

Women in the trucking industry face severe sexual harassment, rape and retaliation; advocates call out chemical giant DuPont on their safety consulting business; home health care workers gain new wage protections; and Texas cities take action on living wages.

The terrorists have defeated the railroads, and by extension, the people. Well, not totally defeated, but they won a small but important battle. We have a problem with the wholesale removal of petroleum from the Bakken oil fields, and the shipping of that relatively dangerous liquid mainly to the east coast on trains, with hundreds…

Medicine

After a busy day yesterday and falling asleep early on the couch, I only have time for a quick take today. So file this under “only in America”: A 23-year-old Metro Detroit man robbed a South Lyon credit union earlier this month for his daughter, he told investigators according to South Lyon Police Lt. Chris…

It’s always disappointing to see a good journal fall for bad medicine, particularly when it’s in your field. For example, the Journal of Clinical Oncology (affectionately referred to by its abbreviation JCO) is the official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and probably the most read clinical journal by those involved in…

I don’t review books that often. The reason is simple. My posts for this blog sometimes take as much as a several hours to write (particularly my more “epic” ones that surpass 5,000 words), and I usually don’t have the time to add several more hours to the task by reading an entire book. Also,…

Brain & Behavior

Another new study published in Nature Communications shows follows along with the prior post and shows that ancestral dogs were ambush hunters that evolved from forest dwelling animals similar to a mongoose (or a cat).  An international team of researchers studied archived samples of elbows and teeth of multiple species of dogs that lived between 40 – 2…

New research suggests that cats may have played a role in the extinction of about 40 species of wild dogs by simply out-hunting them and therefore consuming more food. The study noted that dogs first appeared in North America around 40 million years ago and by 22 million years ago there were over 30 species of wild dogs. Cats arrived…

I came across the “I Spy Physiology” blog today from the American Physiological Society. The blog focuses on physiological topics relevant to daily life. There are also a couple of comparative physiology gems in the blog that you can view using the links below: How birds my help us understand diabetes How research on walking stick…

Technology

August 13th was Earth Overshoot Day. The correct date, if calculated precisely, would come earlier and earlier each year, the current choice is just an approximation. This year, the year 2015, by sometime around August 13th, humanity had consumed as much of what we require from the lands and seas as our planet can sustainabley…

shopt Tomorrow I will shop. Yesterday I shopt. No,not really. The term “shopt” is a Linux Bash thing. If you don’t care about bash, stop reading now. If you find the command line interesting or useful and don’t know about shopt, this is your lucky day. Look at the word for a moment and try…

This 1925 Bugatti Brescia was found in a state of profound neglect in a garage, and was auctioned off for almost a million dollars. It’s a beautiful work of art. It doesn’t run, but still…that would be a fine vehicle for a Sunday drive, once it’s restored. But it’s the wrong model! Way, way back…

Information Science

Katie Gibbs and Alana Westwood of Evidence for Democracy wrote a terrific piece in The Toronto Star a little while ago, We need a national debate on science: A question about science policy has never been asked at a federal leaders’ debate. Now more than ever that has to change. Given the clear importance of…

The academic world and its detractors are all a-tizzy about this recent news reported here: Springer, a major science and medical publisher, recently announced the retraction of 64 articles from 10 of its journals. The articles were retracted after editors found the authors had faked the peer-review process using phony e-mail addresses. The article goes…

Cédric Villani’s Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure has risen to the top of my Best Science Book of 2015 list. It’ll be tough for another book to kick it off that summit before the end of the year, that’s for sure. The name Cédric Villani probably sounds a bit familiar to most who…

Jobs

DuPont has filed a litany of excuses to challenge OSHA’s findings about violations related to the November 2014 death of four employees.

Women in the trucking industry face severe sexual harassment, rape and retaliation; advocates call out chemical giant DuPont on their safety consulting business; home health care workers gain new wage protections; and Texas cities take action on living wages.

I’ve been reviewing OSHA’s proposed rule to protect beryllium-exposed workers. In the agency’s 262-page Federal Register notice, I see an Administration that has gone above and beyond when it comes to assessing the proposals costs to employers.