Mike the Mad Biologist

Archives for December, 2009

Matthew Yglesias fires off a screed against Democrats who have told pollsters that they are unlikely to vote for Democratic congressional candidates in 2010 (I think Amanda’s response sums up my thoughts rather well: people have to like this stuff, or surprisingly, they might not take the time to vote–or want to make the emotional…

Tuesday Links

By the time you read this, I hopefully have been dismissed from jury duty. Science: A Case Of Classic SwiftBoating: How The Right-Wing Noise Machine Manufactured ‘Climategate’ Public health: flunking the test The End of Chiropractic Yogurt Enemas, Rolfing and Astral Healing for All! Limits The beckoning silence: Why half of the world’s languages are…

In short: seven long years. A few months, when everyone was getting all het up about the observation that the rate of increase in the unemployment rate (the second derivative) was decreasing–that is, more and more people were losing jobs, but more and more wasn’t growing as fast as it once was, that struck me…

Many people have been discussing the structural impediments to passing legislation, or what is often called legislative gridlock. As Matthew Yglesias put it: The smarter elements in Washington DC are starting to pick up on the fact that it’s not tactical errors on the part of the president that make it hard to get things…

Sunday Links

It’s freezing here in Boston, and that means… links! Science: New Species of Orchid is World’s Smallest CDC sharply raises H1N1 case estimates; kids hit hard 56% – Do Americans Know Where Scientists Stand on Global Warming? Always Bet On Stupid Other:

I’ve described the Mad Biologist’s Rule of Base Ten Numbers before: My colleagues have all heard of the Mad Biologist’s Rule of Base Ten Numbers: when you see too many numbers that end with zero, become skeptical. That’s because only one in ten numbers should do should end in zero. I then added:

Costumed Crimefighters Prowl Among Us

No, seriously. They do: THWAK! I swing with my right fist, trying to connect with my opponent’s face. In a smooth motion, he deflects my punch with his forearm, which is protected with a black and metallic-plastic arm gauntlet. I swing with my left fist, and am again knocked away effortlessly. I can see my…

One of the major factors leading to political corruption is the revolving door between the private sector and political staffers. It’s no accident that many political scandals, not to mention bad policy, can be traced back to former Congressional aides. There’s a lot of money to be made lobbying your former boss and friends. One…

Thursday Links

Cold, gray, cruddy season. Time for some links! Science: He Must Be Joking A Visit to the Pratt University Steam Plant Ashkenazi Jews are Middle Eastern & European hybrids To really save the planet, stop going green Other:

Research: It’s Not About Prestige, But Money

In an otherwise excellent article about the failures of the U.S. collegiate educational system, Kevin Carey makes a common mistake: he assumes that the pressure to publish is primarily about prestige for the university. It’s not. It’s about revenue. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Carey (italics mine): Universities like to pretend that great scholars…