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What we're talking about One Big (Happy) Family Thursday, September 3, 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 often get requests from students to answer questions about biology — typically, they’ve been told to write to a scientist and get a response, and somehow they’ve picked me. I try to answer them, but due to the number of requests, I usually only give brief answers. Here’s an example: Dear PZ Meyers, Yeah,…

I spent a while this morning typing on my laptop on the deck, and brought the new camera out with me for occasional procrastination. The shady spot at that hour has a nice view of the bird feeder, and I snapped a few shots of these guys feeding (using a telephoto lens): (I cropped and…

Answer: pregnancy. Unlike most animals, it is the male seahorses that give birth to live young. A new study conducted at the University of Sydney and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, found that the male seahorses not only carry out the pregnancy, they also supply nutrients to the developing embryos, including fats and calcium. The researchers suspect…

Physical Science

“When you see how fragile and delicate life can be, all else fades into the background.” –Jenna Morasca The hot Big Bang — proposed seventy years ago — is a tremendous success story. Predicated on the assumption that the Universe was hotter, denser, more uniform and expanding faster in the past, it’s allowed us to…

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…

Environment

Marine biologists from the University of Queensland is looking at coral reefs in Hawaii and what they see is not good. They used high resolution images to track coral bleaching and death. Recently coral reefs in Hawaii suffered their first known mass bleaching event, caused by unusually warm waters associated with the now famous “Blob”…

Richard Tol, not content with a quiet and peaceful life, is having fun on wiki. He’s trying to add a “criticism” section to the [[Bob Ward]] page, featuring the exciting adventures of… yes, you’ve guessed it, one R Tol: In 2014, Ward was accused by Professor [[Richard Tol]] of conducting a smear campaign against him……

Answer: pregnancy. Unlike most animals, it is the male seahorses that give birth to live young. A new study conducted at the University of Sydney and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, found that the male seahorses not only carry out the pregnancy, they also supply nutrients to the developing embryos, including fats and calcium. The researchers suspect…

Humanities

It’s perhaps not surprising that single parents face a higher risk of living in poverty. However, a new study finds that such risk is much higher for single mothers than for single fathers, even when they both have similar jobs and education levels and work the same number of hours.

I spent a while this morning typing on my laptop on the deck, and brought the new camera out with me for occasional procrastination. The shady spot at that hour has a nice view of the bird feeder, and I snapped a few shots of these guys feeding (using a telephoto lens): (I cropped and…

Slate’s been doing a series about college classes everyone should take, and one of the most heavily promoted of these has been a piece by Dan Check urging students to take something they’re terrible at. This is built around an amusing anecdote about an acting class he took back in the day, but as much…

Education

Slate’s been doing a series about college classes everyone should take, and one of the most heavily promoted of these has been a piece by Dan Check urging students to take something they’re terrible at. This is built around an amusing anecdote about an acting class he took back in the day, but as much…

Answer: pregnancy. Unlike most animals, it is the male seahorses that give birth to live young. A new study conducted at the University of Sydney and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, found that the male seahorses not only carry out the pregnancy, they also supply nutrients to the developing embryos, including fats and calcium. The researchers suspect…

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…

Politics

It’s perhaps not surprising that single parents face a higher risk of living in poverty. However, a new study finds that such risk is much higher for single mothers than for single fathers, even when they both have similar jobs and education levels and work the same number of hours.

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?

Medicine

Answer: pregnancy. Unlike most animals, it is the male seahorses that give birth to live young. A new study conducted at the University of Sydney and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, found that the male seahorses not only carry out the pregnancy, they also supply nutrients to the developing embryos, including fats and calcium. The researchers suspect…

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…

Brain & Behavior

Answer: pregnancy. Unlike most animals, it is the male seahorses that give birth to live young. A new study conducted at the University of Sydney and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, found that the male seahorses not only carry out the pregnancy, they also supply nutrients to the developing embryos, including fats and calcium. The researchers suspect…

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…

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

It’s perhaps not surprising that single parents face a higher risk of living in poverty. However, a new study finds that such risk is much higher for single mothers than for single fathers, even when they both have similar jobs and education levels and work the same number of hours.

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.