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What we're talking about One Big (Happy) Family Wednesday, August 5, 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 came across this highly entertaining video of the “Top 10 Extreme Forms of Life” on YouTube:

No, really, they are. Hipster libertarians are the new street mimes, so enjoy them while you can before everyone gets tired of them. The latest example is this silicon valley entrepreneur, Rob Rhineheart, who has written a paean to his lifestyle. It starts with a complaint about the horrors of alternating current. The walls are…

David Futrelle missed an opportunity! He posted about this awesomely stupid Reddit thread that asserts the biologically inferior nature of women, and then he admits to reading only a few of the comments in the resulting mess.

Physical Science

When it comes to the definition of “genius,” everything is relative, right? When a particularly bright young person performs an amazing feat of intellect or scores incredibly well on a standardized test like an IQ exam or the SAT, we often herald them with excessive praise, calling them “the next Einstein” or even “smarter than…

“That, then, is loveliness, we said, Children in wonder watching the stars, Is the aim and the end. Being but men, we walked into the trees.” –Dylan Thomas Yet when you look at the night sky, it isn’t watching the stars that reveals all of the Universe’s secrets, nor by looking with what you can…

“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” -Neil Armstrong This past week saw a whole lot of interesting things happen, including…

Environment

I came across this highly entertaining video of the “Top 10 Extreme Forms of Life” on YouTube:

A guest post by Robet Hollander, Winemaker 2redWinery, makers of the award-winning Ziniphany© Zinfandel and #2red is 38% towards goal on Indiegogo with all proceeds supporting prostate cancer research through the Robert and Susan Hollander Foundation, an IRS approved 501c3 organization. Campaign supporters, in exchange for their tax-deductible support, can secure wine from the 2015…

There are two new scientific research papers looking at variation over the last century or so in global warming. One paper looks at the march of annual estimates of global surface temperature (air over the land plus sea surface, not ocean), and applies a well established statistical technique to ask the question: Was there a…

Humanities

I came across this highly entertaining video of the “Top 10 Extreme Forms of Life” on YouTube:

I came across this neat video from Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. Michael Romero, a comparative physiologist interested in how the kidneys work. In this video he describes discoveries made in zebrafish that relate to human kidney function:

Last week, Nigeria met an important milestone: An entire year without a reported case of polio. This leaves just two countries where polio is endemic.

Education

I came across this highly entertaining video of the “Top 10 Extreme Forms of Life” on YouTube:

I came across this neat video from Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. Michael Romero, a comparative physiologist interested in how the kidneys work. In this video he describes discoveries made in zebrafish that relate to human kidney function:

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology shows that noisy humans are impacting the physiology and behaviors of dolphins and whales. To compete against man-made noises, these animals are altering the amplitude, frequency or length of their vocalizations or repeat what they need to say with the hope of being heard. Dr. Maria Holt and colleagues studied a par…

Politics

More thread.

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology shows that noisy humans are impacting the physiology and behaviors of dolphins and whales. To compete against man-made noises, these animals are altering the amplitude, frequency or length of their vocalizations or repeat what they need to say with the hope of being heard. Dr. Maria Holt and colleagues studied a par…

Reporters investigate worker exploitation and abuse in the H-2 visa program; U.S. labor secretary speaks out on the “on-demand” economy; recycling workers face hazardous conditions and unnecessary injury risks; and some businesses say good-bye to the raise.

Medicine

I came across this highly entertaining video of the “Top 10 Extreme Forms of Life” on YouTube:

Almost a year ago, I wrote about a terrible article that was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health. FiPH is a legitimate, peer-reviewed journal, and they had just published a manuscript that was straight-up HIV denial, titled “Questioning the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: 30 years of dissent.” At the time, it was listed as a…

About a month ago, a number of news stories were published reporting that the University of Toronto had offered a course in alternative medicine taught by a homeopath named Beth Laundau-Halpern that presented a segment that was clearly highly biased towards antivaccine pseudoscience. It was worse than that, though, because this homeopathy just happened to…

Brain & Behavior

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology shows that noisy humans are impacting the physiology and behaviors of dolphins and whales. To compete against man-made noises, these animals are altering the amplitude, frequency or length of their vocalizations or repeat what they need to say with the hope of being heard. Dr. Maria Holt and colleagues studied a par…

Superstorm Sandy came ashore nearly three years ago, pummeling the New England and Mid-Atlantic coast and becoming one of the deadliest and costliest storms to ever hit the U.S. This week, the Sandy Child and Family Health Study released two new reports finding that the health impacts of Sandy continue to linger, illustrating the deep mental footprint left by catastrophic disasters and the challenges of long-term recovery.

Exposing Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) to shorter photoperiods (think winter) for about two months causes the animals to spontaneously undergo daily bouts of torpor during which time they decrease metabolic rate to conserve energy.  New research published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology was designed to examine whether decreases in growth hormone secretion…

Technology

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…

Problems with the Apple Magic Mouse I had been using the stock Apple Magic Mouse on an iMac. The right click often didn’t work properly. Also, selecting and dragging files in Finder, or the Finder replacement I use (PathFinder) often failed. I figured the former was related to the mouse but assumed the latter was…

Analyzing online searches and social media activity has often been suggested as a way to track and maybe even predict the spread of diseases. And it’s a great idea — if it’s done right, it could offer public health workers real-time surveillance and a jumpstart at containing dangerous outbreaks. But there’s a hitch. How can we attempt to decipher between online activity triggered by the possibility of actual disease symptoms and online activity triggered by simple curiosity?

Information Science

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…

It has begun. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called an election for October 19, 2015, kicking off a marathon 11 week election campaign. The longest campaign since the 1870s, believe it or not. My patient readers may have noticed that over the last few years I’ve posted quite a bit about how science has…

Gabriella Coleman’s Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous is largely a laudatory history of the Anonymous hacker activist movement with some anthropological and political analysis. Whitney Phillips’ This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture on the other hand, is much more geared…

Jobs

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the US. This one occurred on Thursday, July 30, 2015 in Greenville, South Carolina.

The fatal work-related injuries that killed Timothy Todd Winding, 50, could have been prevented had his employer followed worker safety regulations.

Reporters investigate worker exploitation and abuse in the H-2 visa program; U.S. labor secretary speaks out on the “on-demand” economy; recycling workers face hazardous conditions and unnecessary injury risks; and some businesses say good-bye to the raise.