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What we're talking about One Big (Happy) Family Tuesday, September 1, 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

I’ve got a press release from the University of Southern California that seems important, but I don’t have time today to read the study. So, you can look at the press release and tell me what you think of it. Climate Change Will Irreversibly Force Key Ocean Bacteria into Overdrive Scientists demonstrate that a key…

Oh, here’s a good takedown of that shill for the petroleum industry, Bjorn Lomborg. Lomborg’s message to the newspaper readers has thus nothing to do with a fair portrayal of how much sea-level rise the scientific community expects. Rather it is a distortion and blatant attempt at downplaying future sea-level rise. Looking at Lomborg’s many…

Physical Science

Today, I officially stopped being department chair, and started my sabbatical leave. I also acquired a new toy: My old DSLR camera, a Canon Rebel XSi that I got mumble years ago, has been very good for over 20,000 pictures, but a few things about it were getting kind of flaky– it’s been bad at…

    One day in the future, we may be treating our ailments with microbiotic combinations designed specifically to correct imbalances in our personal microbiomes. We’ll bring our prescriptions on rewritable paper and pay using shimmery optical chips embedded in our cell phone cases or maybe our jewelry. Or we’ll be waiting in our doctor’s…

When it comes to the Universe, physicists say things like: it originated in a Big Bang, it’s isotropic (or the same in all directions), and it’s homogeneous (the same everywhere), save for the effects of cosmic evolution. In every direction we look, we see galaxies expanding away from us, with the expansion rate increasing the…

Environment

The Citi Global Perspectives and Solutions thingie, part of Citibank, has done a study that you can read here. It says that addressing global warming makes economic sense. So, when those science deniers are out there denying climate change they are also denying arithmetic. Shame on them. Dana Nuccitelli, author of Climatology versus Pseudoscience and…

Not the book (which is good) but the thing. The storms, really. I may have mentioned the pilot whales I saw in San Diego the other day. You’ve heard about changes in shark distributions, and odd fish being caught in unusual places, etc. This is all about changes in the Pacific as increased global warming…

Two items of interest. 1) A new poll looks at conservative and liberal views of science. The findings are not especially unexpected, but the details are interesting. The image above is from this infographic, and the details are given here. Yes, the detail are quite interesting. 2) If you care, there is some information on…

Humanities

I spent last week in Denmark at a friendly, informative and rather unusual conference. The thirteenth Castella Maris Baltici conference (“castles of the Baltic Sea”) was a moveable feast. In five days we slept in three different towns on Zealand and Funen and spent a sum of only two days presenting our research indoors. The…

“When he came home, I could see a change. He was quieter and he was a man and a hero to me. I watched him and listened to him. I’d never had an opportunity to do a superhero, and when that came, [that voice] just came right out of me and I sounded like Optimus.”…

So, the Hugo awards were handed out a little while ago, with half of the prose fiction categories going to “No Award” and the other half to works I voted below “No Award.” Whee. I’m not really interested in rehashing the controversy, though I will note that Abigail Nussbaum’s take is probably the one I…

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

Two items of interest. 1) A new poll looks at conservative and liberal views of science. The findings are not especially unexpected, but the details are interesting. The image above is from this infographic, and the details are given here. Yes, the detail are quite interesting. 2) If you care, there is some information on…

A group of foundations has provided another year of funding for a program that has greatly expanded access to IUDs and allowed the state’s teen pregnancy rate to plummet. Will the Colorado legislature start picking up the tab next year?

Sociologist Jennifer Laird was researching unemployment among Mexican immigrants when she came upon some interesting numbers on black workers in the public sector and employment effects of the Great Recession. It piqued her interest and so she decided to keep digging.

Medicine

I didn’t think I’d be writing about acupuncture again so soon after deconstructing another “bait and switch” acupuncture study less than a week ago. True, the quackery that is acupuncture and the seemingly unending varieties of low quality studies published to make it seem as though there is anything more than nonspecific placebo effects invoked…

    One day in the future, we may be treating our ailments with microbiotic combinations designed specifically to correct imbalances in our personal microbiomes. We’ll bring our prescriptions on rewritable paper and pay using shimmery optical chips embedded in our cell phone cases or maybe our jewelry. Or we’ll be waiting in our doctor’s…

If there’s one thing that is true of the antivaccine movement, it’s that its members are rarely willing to admit that they are, in fact, antivaccine. Sure, there are uncommon exceptions who say it loud that they are antivaccine and proud and through their refreshing honesty and lack of self-delusion cause no end of problems…

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

    One day in the future, we may be treating our ailments with microbiotic combinations designed specifically to correct imbalances in our personal microbiomes. We’ll bring our prescriptions on rewritable paper and pay using shimmery optical chips embedded in our cell phone cases or maybe our jewelry. Or we’ll be waiting in our doctor’s…

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…

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

The fatal work-related injuries that killed Norberto Romero could have been prevented had his employer followed worker safety regulations.

Sociologist Jennifer Laird was researching unemployment among Mexican immigrants when she came upon some interesting numbers on black workers in the public sector and employment effects of the Great Recession. It piqued her interest and so she decided to keep digging.

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